Showing posts from June, 2010

Patrizia Ciofi

Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi is making her Company debut with us this season as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier. She's a voice we don't know much about, as we've been limited to hearing her in short online clips or snippets on DVD. Here's a new clip we came across the other day on the awesome Opera Chic blog. It's Patrizia and mezzo Laura Polverelli in Bellini's Capuleti e Montecchi. If this isn't the prettiest nine or so minutes of music you hear today we really want to know what you are listening to.

Podcast Monday

This week's podcast is a devil of a good time.

This week, Dr. Nic gets ready for the return of Greer Grimsley and explores historic basses who have taken on the role of Mephistopheles.

You can download this week's podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- A look at the state of American Opera and the question: is anybody listening?
- Will Placido Domingo retire from singing in January 2011?
- A football/soccer opera is in the works? Make it about our US team and you have yourself a tragedy worthy of the masters. We're not bitter or anything...

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

We're going to listen to Iolanta tomorrow afternoon, after the US World Cup Match, of course. We've listened to this opera before, but it's been such a long time we're considering this a first listen.
Share you listening plans in the comment section and please, make it a good one.

Science + opera = win

We always like stories about science. We also like stories about opera. Here's a story about a soprano that serenaded her surgeons after receiving a lung transplant (no, not right away). Not only is it interesting but very heartwarming as well. And 100% vuvuzela free.

Brahms and Ravel on the Vuvuzela

We've been joking about Mozart's other opera "Die Zaubervuvuzela" during World Cup month but it seems a few members of the Berlin Orchestra has taken the joke even further claiming that Brahms had written music for the vuvuzela and then proceed to play an excerpt.

You can watch the clip by clicking the link (unable to embed). It's in German but I think we can all understand the universal sound of extremely annoying buzzing.


Podcast Monday

This week's podcast is now online and this week Nic explores Margarethe Siems - the First Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. You can download the podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Ever wanted to perform in an opera? There's an ap for that.
- While everyone talked about the music of Moby-Dick, people were equally as impressed with the special effects.
- The New York Times on Los Angeles Opera's Ring Cycle.

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Time to ask what we always ask on Friday: what are you listening to this weekend?

We're listening to one thing and one thing only: the vuvuzela.
It's World Cup. Gotta keep our priorities straight.
Truth be told, we might swing a recording of Carmen on for our Father's Day brunch; this was the opera my father played constantly while I was growing up and part of the reason I'm here where I am right now. But knowing him, he'll want to watch the match instead.
Apples don't fall far from the tree.
Share your listening plans below. And make it a good one!

Contralto Maureen Forrester Dies at 79

Canadian Contralto Maureen Forrester died on Wednesday. She was 79. Maureen made her San Diego Opera debut as the Witch in 1984's Hansel and Gretel and returned in 1990 as Mme. deCroissy in Dialogues of the Carmelites.

She had suffered dementia in recent years and died peacefully according to her daughter.

You can read her full obituary here.

Soprano Ermonela Jaho Lives Her Dream and Possibly Shills for Bill Gates

The Aria Serious crew first became aware of Albanian soprano ErmonelaJaho in 2008 when our soprano for Maria Stuarda became ill during tech week.

Our Artistic Director was familiar with Jaho, having seen her perform Maria Stuarda some time earlier while in Europe. Knowing we needed to start lining up a replacement immediately (not many people sing the role of Maria Stuarda) Ian called her agent in New York to see if she was available and in the country. The agent said "why don't you ask her yourself; she's sitting right here next to me." She was on a plane a few hours later.

Ermonela arrived in time for the final dress rehearsal on Thursday night. She did one walk through of the opera and then sang the opening night performance on Saturday to popular and critical acclaim. Since then she's been singing at all the major houses - the Met, Covent Garden and beyond.

Ermonela comes back to sing Liu in the season opener Turandot. She was able to take a few minutes from her…

Renee Fleming's Shiny New Crossover Video

Sadly, the Aria Serious crew was not impressed with Renee's new album of indie and pop music covers, but then again we're hard to impress.

Anyway, here is her new shiny video from her Dark Hope album for you to look at and hopefully enjoy.

Podcast Monday Returns

We're back! Yes, after a few week hiatus, Dr. Nic returns with his weekly series of Podcasts. This week's topic:

Famous Turandots on record - Luckily for us, Puccini's opera Turandot premiered in 1926, well after the invention of sound recording. So even though we don't have a recording of excerpts from the opera by the two principals (soprano Rosa Raisa and Miguel Fleta), we do have recordings of some of the sopranos who made history in the role. Let's survey a handful of those sopranos and see if we can get a good sound picture of what Puccini might have expected for the role.

You can download the podcast here, and as always they are free. Enjoy!

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Do online video clips hurt or help opera companies? We think opera is the one art form that can directly benefit from well done short clips. The trick is getting them done well.
- A pop music perspectives of LA Opera's Ring.
- Another Southern California opera company, this one doing exciting and experimental work and growing. A look at Long Beach Opera.

Opera Conference Recap, Day 2

... in which we shake our head at the mystery opera, walk right by Maria Callas, learn what it feels like to be a sardine, get floored by Jackson Pollock and slurp noodles while suppressing the urge to kill a mime...
Day two of the Opera Conference has come to an end, and it was quite a day. The second day of the conference (actually the first official day - yesterday was a special seminar session) started with a welcome session with comments from Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors ZevYaroslovsky. Filled with self-depreciating humor he was an excellent speaker, an advocate for Arts Education (he knows how to sweet talk the Aria Serious crew) and encouraging all of the attendees in the hall to spend money while in LA - they need the income he chuckled in recognition of the $14m loan to the Los Angeles Opera to help cover expenses of the Ring Cycle. He also called opera fans the loudest fans in the world, after the Lakers.
As if. We totally have them beat. Then there were comments by…

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Friday, the bacon of the workweek. And time to ask what we always ask on Friday, what are you listening to this weekend?
The Aria Serious crew will be deep in opera seminars and meetings this weekend, and what free time we have we'll spend listening to the drone of vuvuzelas with our eyes on the pitch. It's World Cup month after all.
There is a slight chance we'll head over to Long Beach Opera's Orpheus and Euridice but obligations back home might prevent us from making the curtain.
What are you listening to this weekend? Any World Cup predictions?
Mmm. Bacon.

Opera America Conference Day 1

So the first day of the Opera America conference has passed and it was a good one.
The Aria Serious crews was ensconced all day in a "Making an Impact With Social Media and Technology" seminar, held in a freezing ballroom with, ironically, the worst wifi this side of smoke signals.
It was a great day however, filled with presentations from the leaders of Social Media.
It was nice to hear we're doing many of the same things they are, and humbling (and a little bit scary) to hear that many of them look to us for guidance and inspiration.
Presentations were by Marc van Bree, Ling Chan at Vancouver Opera, Margo Drakos of Instant Encore (maker of our iPhone ap. We have an iPhone ap? You betcha) and CeciDadisman from Palm Beach Opera. While everyone had different and intriguing ideas, it was clear that the goal for all of us is the same; how can we create an online community and engage the community to provide a meaningful relationship to our art form and organization. And here …

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Conductor Leonard Slatkin on his departure from the Met'sLa traviata and on divas being divas.
- Luciano Pavarotti made his San Diego Opera debut 30 years ago this weekend. The Los Angeles Times remembers this performance.
- Opera in a pool, with our dear friend Elizabeth Futral (she was our Violetta in La traviata).

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be skipping on our weekly opera due to travels this weekend. We're heading up to Los Angeles to listen to the mopey minimalist pop of The XX on Saturday.
We're hoping to get some time in at Amoeba records as well. It's been a long time since we went to a record store; we've been moving to digital music since we turned our music room into a nursery and we're tight on space. Still, we'll be hitting the stacks to find some gems, space be damned.
Any new opera recordings we should pick up? Let us know. We already have Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixenon our list of purchases but we're always looking for something new and different.
And of course, share your listening plans with us.
Make it a good one!

Baritone Giuseppe Taddei dies

Italian baritone Giuseppe Taddei died in Rome yesterday. He was 93. Taddei began his career at the age of 18 and sang in opera houses throughout the world past his 70s.

You can more about him here.

And watch him performing "Non piu andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro.

Behind the Music

Using an MRI machine, we can now see what goes on in a soprano's mouth when she sings. The verdict? Tongues are gross.

But very cool...

the diva and the emcee from Krishna Nayak on Vimeo.

Two Turntables and a Baritone

Dapper DJ Daedelus remixed Wagner's Ring Cycle last month as part of the Los Angeles Ring Festival and we have video below to prove it. The verdict? It's got a good beat and I can dance to it. I give it an 80.

Daedelus Remixes the Ring Cycle from clay lipsky on Vimeo.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Close to home, The LA Opera began it's long awaited Ring Cycle. Opening night was met with about two dozen protesters outside, but the reaction inside was quite positive. How are tickets sales? Apparently behind what was originally planned, that damn economy is still making life difficult.

- The sour economy is affecting opera halfway around the world, Australia's famed Sydney Opera House is in such severe financial straits it could face permanent closure. Reports are indicating that the iconic house is so antiquated that it poses a safety risk to performers and stage crews. Yikes.

- Crossover: n.
a. The adaptation of a musical style, as by blending elements of two or more styles or categories, to appeal to a wider audience.
b. A recording designed to appeal to more than one segment or portion of the listening audience.
c. One that appeals to a wide or diverse audience

See "Dark Hope", the new album by Renee Fleming. And the NY Times classical music cr…