Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Readers!

First, today is Christmas Eve, and in Oklahoma we have snow. Six to eight inches of snow has fallen today, and there is no sign of it ceasing. Unfortunately, snow in Oklahoma invariably means that ice shall be present on the streets after the snow has melted, which will not happen for a while yet.

On Christmas Eve it is my family's tradition to drive to my aunt and uncle's residence and have a Christmas feast, but because of the inclement weather, which is worse this year than my father ever recalls it having been previously in his lifetime, we have reappointed our celebration, and we have scheduled it for my birthday, which is this Sunday. This is an interesting fact since my birthday has not fallen on a Sunday in many years, if ever, because of the saving grace of the modern Gregorian calendar, that being the concept of the leap year, which affects my birthday's chances of happening on a Sunday. I shall be twenty then, and I shall be afforded the excellent opportunity of celebrating Christmas with my family upon my birthday. Is there truly a better gift to receive than such that I have just described?

I anxiously anticipate tomorrow morning, for I long to see our family express their love to each other by presenting gifts to each other in commemoration of Christ's birth and His divine gift of salvation for mankind. I am grateful for the blessings that God has most graciously bestowed upon me, and I thank Him for all that he has done to provide for my family this year. His exceptional providence towards us has been monumental, and it is difficult to imagine my life and continued existence without it.

I also am ingratiated to the people with whom it has been my pleasure to acquaint myself through the various means I have at my disposal. In this first year of blogging I have found people who have given a part of themselves to me without reservation. I have met Chelsea, Kim, Leah, SarahB, Rae-Mae, and Samantha, who have all opened themselves and their lives to my scrutiny and inquiry, and in the process of this, they have become acquaintances who have developed interest in my personality, and they have taught me so many new things about opera, broadway, and, most importantly, life. I hope that I have given them something adequate in exchange for all of this that I have had the immense pleasure of receiving, and I pray that I have been a perfect gentleman toward all of them. When I first began blogging, I could not have hoped for better people with whom to fraternize. I pray that God may continue to bless them this Christmas, and I enjoy their blogs invariably.

In news concerning opera, the Met is considering reviving Franco Zeffirelli's [classic, flawless] production of Puccini's Tosca next season for reasons contrary to what may be assumed by those who have heard that critical acclaim is less than expected. Although they will not retire the new production, I hope the decide to revive Zeffirelli's production. I was able to see the new production on television recently, and while the singing was rather good, the production just did not seem to flow. It seemed that they were shorthanded on props, and the set seemed too large and devoid of details. I did not like the "jump" at the end, either. Their use of frozen motion at the finish seemed to leave something undone for my taste. I have not seen their former production of the opera, but it could not be any worse than I thought this one was.

In other news Julie Andrews, whom an adoring public, of which I am a part, thought could no longer sing, is giving a concert next year in London's o2 arena. I want to see footage of this event on YouTube, and if it is as good as I expect it to be, I hope she will release a new CD. I read this in my local newspaper recently, and I could not believe what I had just saw. Does anyone wish to speculate about the possibility of a tour? I would definitely like to attend that concert if it came my way. What do you think she will sing, and will it sound as good as we remember her voice had sounded before her debilitating throat surgery? I hope she sings some Broadway standards, and I have my reservations, but if only for the sake of memory, this will be an event to remember.

For your enjoyment I now offer some videos to help us celebrate the season in song.

I thank all of your for perusing my posts, and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Met Broadcast Season Has Arrived!

I am pleased to say that last Saturday I was able to hear the Met's broadcast of Puccini's Il Trittico starring Patricia Racette as all three heroines, no less, who is only the third soprano in the Met's history to essay such an endeavor, Salvatore Licitra, Heidi Grant Murphy, Stephanie Blythe, Saimir Pirgu, Alessandro Corbelli, and Zeljko Lucic. Though Licitra was suffering from a cold, it was a memorable performance, for all of the singing was done well, and the orchestra played with all of the emotion Puccini intended.

Neverthelss, despite such a preview of the coming season, I am looking forward to next week's offering of Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, which boasts a cast of Joseph Calleja, Anna Netrebko, Kathleen Kim, Ekaterina Gubanova, Kate Lindsey, and Alan Held. My expected favorites are Kathleen Kim, Joseph Calleja, and Kate Lindsey. Hoffmann is also a new production by Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher, and it is presented Live in HD.

Der Rosenkavalier is the beginning of my prospective highlights of the season. The cast, which is nearly one that I would wish for only in fantasy, is Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, Christine Schafer, Eric Cutler, Thomas Allen, and Kristinn Sigmundsson. It is broadcast as a part of the regular radio broadcast season, and it is presented as a piece of the Met's celebrated Live in HD series on January 9, 2010, and I shall do all in my power to see it in my local movie theater. How could I have chosen a better cast to commence my Live in HD experience? I also wish to see Rossini's Armida at the theater since it also offered in the Met's Live in HD lineup this year, but we shall have to see about it closer to its presentation.

In conclusion I am thankful that I have a way to experience world class opera from the convenience of my home, and I hope the Met broadcast season never leaves us. Thank you for reading my posts, and I hope that God blesse you all with peace and joy this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Random Conversation...

While I was working at the church where I am employed, it became necessary for me to speak to the music director concerning the arrangement of chairs in the sanctuary for the upcoming Christmas concert, and I, in an attempt to create conversation, asked him about his musical preferences, particularly whether or not he knew of the female quartet Anonymous4. He replied that he did, and, moreover, he enjoys their music immensely. It turns out that he also listens to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on the radio, and he was elated to learn that Anonymous4 is scheduled to perform in concert in Tulsa next year. We continued to speak, and I learned that he also has a predilection towards Renee Fleming, so I informed him that January 6, 2010, is the date for the Met's Live in HD broadcast of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier with Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, and Miah Persson. I should very much like to hear Ramon Vargas in the role of the Italian Singer, but I am sure that Barry Banks shall perform excellently, but I digress.

The Music Director, who is the church's principal organist besides the music director, also related to me that he once accompanied soprano Leona Mitchell in a recital, to which I replied that I recalled an article in a recent issue of Opera News that divulged that she was desirous to perform at the Met again, and she would prefer to do so as Bellini's Norma. He also told me of a time not very long since that he saw Chanticleer perform live in San Francisco. They presented a concert here in Oklahoma City, and he said that they did not sound nearly as exceptional as he remembered them.

Such was the highlight of my day yesterday, and I was left wondering how many people with whom I am personally acquainted who have such stories to disclose? Ordinary life can often surprise one who does look for the most in it. I hope that I have sufficiently learned that moral.

Thank you for reading my posts, and may God continue to bless you in all things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things For Which I Am Thankful

The national holiday of Thanksgiving, being native to the United States of America, given to us by our ancestors who sailed on the Mayflower from Holland to seek the religious freedom that the incorporation of an independent government might bestow upon them and their progeny, has given me ample reason to think of some of the various things for which I should be eternally grateful. Since I have not written a post in a while, being otherwise occupied with rehearsals and performances of Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden and my vocation, I thought that it would be acceptable for me to devote this one to such a divinely manifested subject as this one appears to be. Therefore, I devote the immediate portion of this post to a list of such things. I must caution my readers that this may seem most mundane and boring to my readers, but, nevertheless, I shall endeavor to present these items for the interested parties.

  1. I am thankful for my relationship with God and his continued providence and grace for me.

  2. I possess much gratitude for my gracious acquaintances and friends who have been kind enough to profess interest in my life and my predilections. They have proven themselves to be excellently indulgent to me, and they constantly encourage me in all things.

  3. I am also grateful for my loving family who have ever remained by my side in whatever circumstances in which I have found myself. It is they who have had the greatest impact upon my life, and they are supportive of all of my endeavors.

  4. I should be greatly remiss if I neglected to declare something concerning my thanks for all of the freedom we, the populace of the United States, are providently granted, and my equal thanks for those of us who protect it from within our territories as well as without them.

  5. What sort of wretch should I be labeled if I were to forget to mention my appreciation of the possessions I am afforded the gracious opportunity to maintain? I adore my rather expansive collection of classical music and my precious library of literature. They are these two things along with my attire that I should find it difficult to relinquish.

  6. To all of those who have contributed to my education in whatever means, I am immensely indebted and thankful, for who am I without it?

  7. I have lately realized what a beautiful thing it is to live in Oklahoma, and I am greatly thankful to my parents for choosing to reside in the metropolis that is our capitol city of the state. I must also thank all of the excellent classical music artists who perform here in this state from time to time, for they are more than I at first thought, and I could easily be deprived of this luxury. One luminary ensemble to whom I am anxiously looking forward to seeing perform live is Anonymous4. If you ever listen to this quartet, you may never wish to hear any other music besides theirs.
  8. I am thankful for the vocal talent that God has chosen to bestow upon me. I pray that I forever praise Him with that endowment.

  9. I am exceedingly grateful for Metropolitan Opera broadcasts and Opera News magazine.

  10. I retain much gratitude for my health and vivacity of life; moreover, I cannot lose this virtuous quality of thanks since I was born with a shadow over my probable future, something I may choose to share later in my continuing blog, and I pray that I may never take it for granted.

Although I could easily name many other things for which my spirit contains gratitude, I have elected to shorten this post by proceeding to another topic of interest.

Opera News' December 2009 issue, the first of its broadcast issues for the upcoming Metropolitan Opera broadcast season, employs Joseph Calleja as its cover subject. Tenor Calleja, who is scheduled to star as Hoffmann in Bartlett Sher's new production of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann for an ailing Rolando Villazon who is suffering from a cyst on his vocal cords, iterates some very interesting perspectives on his interpretation of how to sing and to maintain one's instrument; however, these aforementioned perspectives all seem to be excellent recommendations and prudent for all singers. If only he applied such reasoning to his driving habits, of which we are informed by the author of the interview, we might have finally found a true Renaissance man. It also begs reference that Cecilia Bartoli's latest release, which is entitled Sacrificium, made the Editor's Pick in the section reserved for reviews of new recordings. I had hoped that this release would attain such an accolade for itself, especially after Renee Fleming's Verismo did not, and, insofar as those who style themselves critics are concerned, I was elated to have finally chosen a good recording.

Finally, I thank all of you for reading my post, and I pray that you attain the enjoyment of an excellent Thanksgiving Day complete with your family and loved ones and a feast evident of the bounty with which God has blessed us.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Richard Tucker Gala

The upcoming Richard Tucker Gala looks to be another impressive evening of music sung by an enticing roster of singers. This year's concert, which some may consider to be a hallmark of the operatic season, especially for those of us who adore special gatherings of star singers who might never otherwise sing together without such an event, is not without its share of expectations, either. The singers who have been tapped to perform for the Richard Tucker Award Gala are Stephanie Blythe, Jospeh Calleja, Elina Garanca, Susan Graham, Anna Netrebko, Hei-Kyung Hong, Maria Guleghina, Zeljko Lucic, James Morris, Matthew Polenzani, Samuel Ramey, and the winner of the 2009 Richard Tucker Award, Stephen Costello. I merely hope that it is broadcast on PBS or on some radio station so that those of us who are not so fortunate as others to have tickets to the performance may at least hear it, but I recall reading in Opera News some years ago that there is a lack of funding to present the Richard Tucker Gala over the air, which makes it all the more pleasing that we were given the enormous benevolence of seeing the 2007 concert last year on PBS. Do I even have to mention the memorable episodes from the artists of that recital? There was Renee Fleming beautifully blending her voice with Joyce DiDonato in Ah, guarda sorella from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, Diana Damrau and DiDonato singing the duet accompanying the presentation of the rose from Der Rosenkavalier, DiDonato providing her signature aria of recent times, Una voce poco fa from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Damrau offering a spirited and comedic interpretation of Glitter and be Gay from Bernstein's Candide, to mention most of what I recall from that evening.

If thes performances are to be of any indication as to what the upcoming Richard Tucker Gala shall offer musically, I would remind all of you to mark your calendars for November 22, 2009, to be present at the recital, which begins, I believe, at 6 P.M.

On November 19, 2009, the fifth annual Opera News Awards are to be presented to Martina Arroyo, Joyce DiDonato, who, if I am not very much mistaken, has co-hosted this event before, Gerald Finley, Phillip Glass, and Shirley Verret at Gotham Hall at six o'clock, P.M. The evening is hosted by Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson, who have definitley hosted this event before, and the awards shall be given by Stephanie Blythe, Audra McDonald, Deborah Voigt, Paul Simon, and Danielle De Niese. If only the recipients were singing at the event, it would be a most perfect occasion, but even as it is, it sounds most enjoyable.

I have decided to add a new feature to my posts. If I remember to do it, and if I write at least one post per week, I shall include my favorite performance for the current week from the Met's offerings. This is not to say that I shall have listened to them because I make no promise as to that until the Met's broadcast season begins, but it will provide my readers with some knowledge concerning my tastes in opera. In this first week's choice, I am required to choose two performances, and these are Puccini's Turandot starring Maria Guleghina, Marcello Giordani, Maria Poplavskaya, and Samuel Ramey and Rosinni's Il Barbiere di Siviglia starring Joyce DiDonato, Barry Banks, Franco Vassallo, John Del Carlo, and Roberto Scandiuzzi. Both of these operas run throughout the week, but one can see them both this Saturday, November 7, 2009, with Puccini in the afternoon and Rossini in the evening. Opera rarely gives you anything better that this. Also, remember that Puccini's Turandot is part of the Live in HD series, so go to your local movie theater that offers these glorious spectacles and see it wherever you are in the country.

Thank you for reading this post, and may God continually belss you.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Gift From the Opera National de Paris

Those who follow the articles of my blog may recall that Poteet Theatre recently went to Germany to present their award-winning production of John and Jen. The crew of the show as well as the administrative officers of our theatre had a marvelous time in the Rheinland, and when they departed from thence they allowed themselves the additonal luxury of vacationing in Paris, France, for some time. Asking my opinion of which was the best opera house in Paris, I told my dear friend Mr. Prock that I thought the best was the Paris National Opera, so he made it a priority to visit the Palais Garnier to procure some token for me. When he saw this magnificent edifice that serves to glorify opera, he told me that his first emotion was to weep because it was so incredibly beautiful. He also related that he thought the Met was the most gorgeous opera house that he had ever had the pleasure to see, but he said that Opera National de Paris "blew the Met out of the water," if I may quote his phrase. In beauty of their respective venues, I should agree with him, but I must assert that the Met has the luxury of the better casts in its advantage.

The gift he gave me was a program of Charles Gounod's Mireille, which apparently had its premeire run at the company earlier this season. I was overjoyed at the thickness of the program, for this indicates that there is more to peruse and discover, but I was rather taken aback by the advertisement that appeared on the inside cover of the booklet which depicts a model presenting some perfume only lacking an essential part of her raiment. Mr. Prock assured me that his stay in France was pervaded by much of the same imagery, which, I suppose, reveals something as to their lax state of morals in the region around the Loire. Mr. Prock, though he did pay homage to the aforementioned opera house, the Eiffel Tower, and several restaurants, would not visit the Louvre museum, the Musee de l'homme, made forever infamous by the international incident concerning orthodontist Jack Cuozzo of which few know, the Bibliotheque National de France, the Champs Elysees, and other places that I should have visited on such a journey as he had. Another disappointment that I had with the party was that the only food of which they partook was crepes. I should have liked to hear them tell of all of the fabulous French cuisine they tried while they were there and could enjoy it within the best location for that variety of comestible. I think that all of you know by now that I watch far too many travel programs and would invariably add great unecessary expense to my budget in departing to another locale.

In other news in opera, Opera News' website reveals that tenor Roberto Alagna and soprano Angela Gheorghiu are attempting to obtain a divorce. The breaking news alert also indicates that the couple, who have long been billed as opera's dream couple, have been separated from each other for these past two years, which means that during the run of Puccini's La Rondine at the Met last season they must have already assumed that state, but they were still agreeable with each other then. It is alleged that their impending divorce is the reason that Gheorghiu has withdrawn from most of her performances in the Met's current season's new production of Bizet's Carmen for the fact that Alagna is singing Don Jose. Is this actually the case, or is the media making more of this than they ought? I am leaning towards the latter opinion.

Thank you all for your continued visit of my posts.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something New from Cecilia Bartoli

Cecilia Bartoli released her latest offering on Tuesday, the twentieth of October, entitled Sacrificium. As with the latest three albums she has released, those being Maria, La Sonnambula, and Opera Proibita, this disc has a premise behind it, which is the story of the lives of the castrati. Personally, I do not have any desire, not even a remote one, to explore that legacy, but I will probably buy the album just to hear the eleven world-premiere recordings of arias on it.

Bartoli is returning to what many believe suits her best, and that is the music of the Baroque period. Of course, knowing her delivery of coloratura to be what it is, one cannot help but to assume that the operas of the Bel Canto style are better presented for her involvement, a fact proven by her and Juan Diego Florez's Decca release of La Sonnambula last year. Indeed, I should have liked to see a company capitalize on that recording and turn it into a vehicle for the two singers, and I beleive it could have been done in Europe quite easily, for, though American companies are skeptical to make that sort of dramatic shift in a work, European ones are not averse to such idiosyncracies.

It also bears mentioning that my younger brother, whom I have not mentioned prior to now, is going to see the Star Wars: Live in Concert arena spectacular tonight at our local arena. I read an article in our local newspaper about it, and it promises to be a memorable occasion for the devoted follower of the saga.

I shall also mention that I heard a broadcast of Verdi's La Traviata, which some may call my favorite opera, and I must admit that I much prefer the Met's 2004 broadcast of it with Renee Fleming, Ramon Vargas, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Rosalind Elias, which I possess, to this one. This broadcast was from the San Francisco Opera, and it starred Anna Netrebko amongst other people whose names presently escape me. The tenor was not someone with whom I am familiar, but I do recall his name from the Met's season brochure, so I know he is beyond the regional level of performers. Netrebko did not sound terrible, but, as I may have before related to you, I am just not a great fan of Netrebko's. For those who inquire as to my right to have a bias, I proclaim that I own her Sempre Libera recording, and I do return to its music on occasion, but her run in Verdi's jewel from his canon of operas is not one of her best roles in my opinion. My particular reason for distaste of her performance of this role is that her voice simply does not seem to have any volume, any body to it. I am looking forward to her performance in Les Contes d'Hoffmann later in the present Met season to see if I enjoy it, and I think that I shall.

It also begs reference that I bought a Sansa Clip mp3 player, but the reason that I purchased it was that it records directly from FM radio, so I can record all of the Met's broadcasts and transfer them to CD-R's. Speaking of the Met's broadcasts, my readers may find it interesting to learn that both Rossini's Armida and Berg's Lulu, starring Renee Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter, respectively, will be broadcast this season. We are also offered a classic broadcast starring Eleanor Steber. I long to hear these classic broadcasts to compare my opinions to those contained in Mr. Paul Jackson's volume entitled Start-Up at the New Met: The Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts 1964-1974. I like to think that I can hear all of the subtleties he describes, and sometimes I do.

Thank you for reading my posts, and may God continue to bless you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Is This A Joke?

I read on the Opera Tattler blog that Los Angeles Opera and San Francisco Opera are both holding sales of costumes from their costume shops in anticipation of the Halloween season. Those of us who want to dress up for our parties as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto now have the opportunity to do so because they are liquidating 2,500 costumes from their collection. Is it safe to assume that both of these institutions are attempting to earn some extra revenue when it is in short supply for arts companies? Common sense dictates that my answer be yes since the only logical alternative response is that the companies are benevolent to commoners and have an excess of costumes, and that is not a very plausible explanation. The costumes available are mainly things worn by chorus members, but for the collector who has extra capital to spend since these will likely sell for a good amount considering the information I am about to provide, there are also costumes worn by sopranos Carol Vaness and Karita Mattila, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore, who is the most recorded mezzo-soprano of all time, and tenor Placido Domingo. In addition to all of the complete costumes, they are also selling individual accesory pieces such as hats, shoes, and scarves.

According to the press release of the Los Angeles Opera, all of these costumes are of the most excellent quality since the costume shop employs dozens of master crafters in every field related to creating costumes. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that prospective customers need not worry about finding something that will fit them because they have costumes made to fit everyone from "robust Wagnerians to petite Mozartians." Apparently they are helping to advance stereotypes of singers. I wonder if there shall be any horned helmets and spears for sale? Next time around they may start auctioning James Conlon's batons and singers' scores. I think that such would be a more practical sale.

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope that you found this as anecdotal as I did.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

If I May Direct Your Attention To The Upper Right of Your Screen...

If you have not noticed this, I have added a poll to my blog. This first one is designed to offer me some ideas for future posts, which is not to say that I do not have a great amount of these already in my brain, but I wish to wriote things that will be construed as interesting by my readers. If you would like to see new things in posts, then please vote from the four options I have provided. Other polls in the future will contain questions dealing with one's personal instincts concerning a new production or performance, but for now, you are all doing me a favor.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My First Visit to Borders

People who know me, at least those who also know of my predisposition towards opera, would probably assume that I have been to Borders, a national chain of bookstores who also happen to offer classical music as merchandise, quite a number of times, but in doing so they should be quite mistaken. In fact, this last Saturday was my first time to ever peruse the store. This primary visit of what I hope to be many others in the future yielded an excellent result, but I am beginning to hastily discover the climax of the episode to you without first delivering the rest of the interesting event to your knowledge, and this is most undesirable in an author. Therefore, beseeching your gracious indulgence, please allow me to proceed in a more logical order of events.

On the Saturday in question, my friend Jay had my sister and me at Poteet to assist him in some cleaning of our costume facilities, and we naturally obliged his request of us. Since we were available to him at his discretion to serve in whatever capacity it should be most beneficial to him to have us employed, we mutually decided that we could also travel the short distance to his abode and further aid him with his urgent necessity of renovating his house, a task which he and his charming wife have lately attempted. Having had the opportunity to do so prior to this occasion, we knew the prospect would again be pleasant.

Since we had finished our first project of the costume shop at around noon, we went to lunch, which was a casual affair of informal setting and attire, at a local restaurant which specializes in Mexican cuisine. The duration of our luncheon was rather longer than I expected and to which I am accustomed, but the victuals were delicious, and the discourse we held was exuberant and at times stimulating to the intellectual mind. After this, which relinquished us of at least an hour and a half to my knowledge, Jay decided to go to Borders, whose situation in relation to our position in the metropolis was not far removed from us, in hopes of finding a prop for our forthcoming production of Children of Eden, of which I am grateful to say that I am a cast member, but I venture away from the present narrative. I was rather excited about my first expedition into the retail outlet, and Jay, who knows of my ardent enjoyment of opera, was surprised that I had never been here before this, yet he was also joyous that he could introduce me to this momentous experience. We scanned the front displays of volumes arranged for the prospective customer and saw several noteworthy and ridiculous books therein contained, one of which on the meritorious side of the equation was Glen Beck's newest book, which is enticingly entitled Arguing with Idiots, that happens to be a best-seller at present. Knowing this store by reputation, for I am not completely ignorant, it occurred to me that this place also sells classical music as if it were just as popular as its modern counterparts ("You mean that opera falls short in sales of some new release by Brittany Spears?!" Unfortunately the answer to that is yes; I expect that one of these days they will cease to offer Grammy awards for this part of the music industry.), and further recalling that Renee Fleming's Verismo had just been released not very long since, I decided that if I should see it for sale there, I should get it despite whatever price should be on the label. Not wanting to waste a moment of time, I hastily took my leave of my present company and departed for the section of the store which was devoted to music. I quickly found the classical section of fare, for I do not think that popular music employs the marketing device of women in evening gowns holding antique Stradivarius violins on the covers of their CD's, and I eqaully quickly found the small niche devoted to Renee Fleming's recordings; however, much to my chagrin and dismay, Verismo was not to be found among her offerings. My mind quickly developed a theory as to why this might be, and one possible explanation was that loyal Renee Fleming fans had obviously came and bought all of the probably few copies the store had obtained; moreover, hearing tales of this elsewhere and most frequently in other music genres, it might yet be possible, if not altogether plausible now that I look at the situation again, that admirers of her artistry, she being "America's favorite soprano," might have even camped before the establishment the night before the album's release date to capture them all for themselves. Feeling slightly desparate, I searched their catalog computer for the item, and it informed me that the product was likely in the store, so I, my spirits infused with new hope that I might have overlooked the disc in the sadly unorganized area of music, inquired of a sales associate whether or not the absence of a product on the shelf was an indication of its existence in the store, and she said that this was not necessarily the case. She asked me to search for my preference on the catalog computer a second time, and upon my so doing, she remarked that CD's containing the music of various composers was often placed upon the shelf at odd locations, and then she noticed that Renee Fleming was on the cover. I was determined to like this store whether I was able to attain my prize or not since I could finally venture there and say that I wanted something by Renee Fleming without someone not knowing who that is. We journeyed back to the shelf for another look, and when she did not find it, she suggested that I peruse the area of the store which showed the recent releases, and we were just about to go there when Jay and my sister Blaze walked toward me and said that they had something for me. They handed me a copy of Verismo telling me they had found this toward the front of the place, which was exactly where I was going to examine next with the help of an excellent and knowledgeable sales person, but by God's enduring providence, He saw that my want was delivered to me by some of my favorite people in the world. I was thinking all of this when I became aware of the sale price of $13.99 for it instead of its regular price it would receive some time later.

I am overjoyed at the grace of God. Before I terminate this post, for the constaints of time do press upon me, I pray that all of my readers see God's infinite love for us every day and that He will grant you the desires of your heart also just as He has done many of mine. Thank you for your continued perusal of my blog. I am immensely blessed to possess this group of people who condescend to read my humble lines of words. Hopefully in my next post I shall be able to address something of a review of my latest purchase related to opera.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Do Not Ask Me Why, But I Auditioned For "Children of Eden"

Yes, as the title of my post blatantly displays, I auditioned for Steven Schwartz's musical Children of Eden. I only did it because... I wanted to be in another production this year. There, I said it. In other words, I did not think I could make it into Little Women singing a song that was perfect for my voice that I had only learned that day. It turns out that the other two people who sang the song Take A Chance On Me had to look at the words the whole time they were singing it, and this was not a demerit towards their abilities in the eyes of the directors and audition panelists.

As for Children of Eden, I understand from the director that it is extremely difficult musically. I have personally seen the fact illuminated in one song where the chorus splits into nine parts! If that is not treacherous, I do not know what is. I was invited for call-backs on September 12th, and I intend to be cast. There is a minor difficulty that could possibly arise in all of my best laid plans, and this is that one of our performances is a benefit for people who have no money at Christmas, which takes place on Thanksgiving Day; my mother has expressly forbidden us to perform on that day since we have our own feast with our family which takes ample preparation, but my director has promised to speak to her on the matter because he really wants me to be a part of this production. He says that he requires excellent vocalists for this production, and he claims that he naturally needs me to provide my voice to this endeavor. That is one of the most flattering compliments to my voice that I have ever received.

Better suited to my tastes, the church for which I am employed is desirous to expand its choir's membership. They consist of some forty singers at least, but, nevertheless, they wish to acquire more. Most of the members are women, and to be quite honest, I should be more than happy to add my humble talents to their ensemble since they perform Handel's Messiah, Bach's Magnificat, St. John's Passion, and St. Matthew's Passion, Verdi's Mesa da Requiem, and Mendelsohn's oratorio Elijah oftentimes in their original languages. However, be that as it may, I do not think my family should look favorably upon this endeavor, and it would be to my dishonor to ask my parents to ferry me to and from rehearsals and services every week. When I begin to drive, I may inquire as to that prospect with other members of the choir itself, but I shall not do so before then.

In the world of opera, or very nearly in that realm, I am renewing my subscription to Opera News, and I am so thankful that there is a publication such as this one to keep those of us who reside in remote areas in pertinance to opera abreast of developments in the art form we adore. I also cannot wait for the Met's Live in HD season to begin. I hope that I may be allowed to see the new production of Puccini's Tosca starring Karita Mattila and Marcelo Alvarez. I personally think that Marcelo Giordani, who takes over from Jonas Kaufmann later in this production's run, would have made a better pairing for Mattila, but one cannot have everything they want in a Met season. My friend who makes excursions to New York annually has said that he is thinking about going in the spring, and if he should, he might take me if I am allowed to go. I genuinely hope that his friend receives that role on Broadway for their mutual benefit and for my proposed one. I also greatly anticipate the arrival of the Met's broadcast season as well. I immensely hope that we are allowed to hear both Rossini's Armida and Berg's Lulu simply because of the casting of Renee Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter, respectively. I know how much everyone, and I do mean everyone, awaits Der Rosenkavalier starring Renee Fleming and Susan Graham with all of the expectations accompanying it, so I shall say nothing except that I wish we could hear Ramon Vargas in the role of the Italian Singer. Apparently, if I ran the Met, I do not think that I would be open to substitute singers halfway through a run in quite a few cases. I generally like them except when I think about how we shall not hear a singer I particularly enjoy in a role or when I think that a certain cast would sound better to me.

In summation, thank you all for reading and may God thoroughly bless all of you with the desires of your hearts.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Renee Fleming's "Verismo" Releases Septmeber 7, 2009

I have anticipated the release of Verismo ever since I heard it was made, courtesy of Opera News' interview with Renee feautured in their September 2008 issue. This is the repertoire I have longed to hear her sing for so long just to hear how she would sing it. For those of us who are ardent followers of Renee's career and who own more than a few of her recordings, we were given a sampling of this genre with her self-titled album where she included O mio babbino caro, Un bel di vedremo, and Casta Diva among other gems. It was about these interpretations a certain reviewer on Amazon was speaking when they derided Renee as a second rate singer who holds notes longer and sings higher than other singers simply because she can. This, of course, had no effect upon me other than to discredit this person as ignorant, but, then, it may be said that I am biased in Renee's favor. We would be remiss to neglect to mention her beautiful rendition of Vissi d'arte on her Homage release. I listened to that track so much that I now hear "clicks" in the background. Another of my favorite tracks on that disc, Erich Korngold's Ich ging zu ihm also begins to reveal excessive enjoyment; nevertheless, I think that I may be forgiven for the facts that this was the first classical CD I bought from a retail outlet, this was my first Renee Fleming CD, and it was one of my only operatic CD's for the longest time, that is until I became acquainted with eBay.

I must say that I do not think that there is a dull track on this disc. I love how Renee always says that she could never sing this sort of repertoire. Despite what she maintains, one must wonder whether she actually could or not. My readers will invariably ask how I could even think such a thing; in reply I direct their attention to Renee's autobiography The Inner Voice. In it she tells of her collaboration with the famed Hungarian-British conductor Sir Georg Solti, and the maestro, who compared her voice to Renata Tebaldi's in saying they were the two greatest sopranos he had ever met in his life, told her that she should sing either Isolde or Brunnhilde, I cannot recall which. Renee, of course, said that she did not think he actually thought she could sing it, only that he wanted to hear a voice like hers sing it. Nevertheless, one does not become a record holder of the most Grammy awards (yes, Sir Georg Solti possessed 38 Grammy's in his lifetime) by making bad recordings or by not knowing something about music; we shall never know if he knew something we do not about singing. Perhaps Renee could have learned to sing these heavier roles with little or no change to her voice. In any case I am pleased and ecstatic that she is releasing this recital. I cannot wait to hear it; if only the classical music radio stations worked like their contemporary counterparts, we would not be in such a state of waiting!

Well, if I do not buy this disc when it is released, I think all of my readers know what will be at the top of my list for things that I want for my birthday. Marco Armiliato conducts this excellent recording. I could speak volumes about this man. If I ever do become an opera singer, he is a conductor with whom I would long to collaborate.

Thank you all for continuing to peruse my humble posts, and I hope that I have piqued your interest in this new release.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Anonymity Aside, I Present Random Trivia Definitive to My Personality

In a recent post, I promised to deliver a future post listing several things that I thought my readers might like to know about me, which is to say that I am presenting myself in a way some might consider to be a vulgar disregard for one's private life, but it is my privacy that I threaten to violate and no one else's, so I think that the evidence supports my belief that it is within my power to ultimately form my own conviction on the matter regarding myself. Having said as much and formed the aforementioned opinion, I offer this compilation of information, which has no practical employment to the intelectual problems that remain unsolved in our time.

  1. I have only recently discovered approximately how long I have listened to Christian music. What is more relevant to this piece of information is that I enjoy Christian music that is about ten years old. I knew my collection of Wow discs would have some use to me someday. Some of the groups and artists from this genre that I like are: Sixpence None The Richer, LaRue, DC Talk, Fernando Ortega, Whitecross, Stryper, Petra, Plus One, Tait, Plumb, Maire Brennan, etc.

  2. Though this may not be true today since I have grown older as the years have passed, I have or had, whichever my readers prefer to insert and, therefore, believe, a precocious predilection towards classic literature. In example of this fact, I read Homer's Odyssey at the age of fourteen without any prompting from anyone and simply due to my own desire to become literate and educated. However, I remain dissatisfied with my pursuit of literature today; I often feel inadequate and bereft of knowledge when I am with other people for the mere reason that they have read something that I feel I ought to read and have not. I can easily say that it is this constant reminder that drives me in addition to my natural human curiosity to persevere in my education. Truly, one's love and passion for learning and knowledge should never decline, for this is one of God's most precious gifts to humanity, and I do not wish to waste it.

  3. My favorite television shows include: Walker, Texas Ranger, Doc, The Wild, Wild West, Dragnet, Masterpiece Mystery!, Great Performances (of course!), Ancient Almanac, Survivorman, Man vs. Wild, Mantracker, and Steves' Europe.

  4. Should I really include a section about opera singers? I think it would be best if I skip that, for I must retain something for later posts. Instead I shall list some of my favorite operas: La Traviata, Cosi fan tutte, La Boheme, Il Pirata, Rodelinda, Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor, Otello, Le Nozze di Figaro, etc.

  5. Favorite movies: The Sound of Music, Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Vertigo, The Birds, Rear Window, My Fair Lady, Wait Until Dark, Charade, The Great Escape, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, etc.

  6. I was home-educated for ten years.

  7. I have lived in Oklahoma City for all of my life.

  8. I was involved in Royal Rangers.

  9. When I was about thirteen years of age, I wanted to become an FBI Special Agent or else a forensic scientist, and I must say that this desire precipitated that vocation's recent popularity.

  10. Some three years after that, it was my desire to attend West Point United States Military Academy and becom a career military officer.

  11. I play chess, and I am a rather good player when I have devoted myself to it.

  12. When I was 17, the recent translation of James Ussher's The Anals of the World was at the top of the list of gifts that I hoped to receive for my birthday, and I received it from my loving, generous parents. If I had not been blessed with it, I can say without reservation that it would still possess that position on my list of wants.

  13. When I was fourteen or thereabouts, I decided to learn all that I could concerning nuclear energy and the physics relative to it. It was because of this knowledge that I gained that I became interested in Albert Einstien's Unified Field Theory. To this day I still believe that it is a plausible hypothesis.

  14. The mathematical proecess of algebra is difficult for me to grasp, but other facets of higher number theory are constant sources of pleasure for my brain due to an excellent presentation of the science of mathematics by John Hudson Tiner in his book Exploring the World of Mathematics. I would encourage everyone to peruse this volume as well as any other books by this remarkable author.

  15. I play piano to a moderate degree, which is to say that I cannot sight read music, which is the enviable talent of reading the music from the page and playing it without delay. I am afraid that my lack of coordination does not allow me to possess this asset at the present.

  16. I adore the music of Enya. I would probably list her albums Amarantine and The Celts as my favorite of her offerings. There are many times when I wish that she would return to her Celtic roots more often on her recordings, but I cannot imagine her work without her beautiful piano compositions.

  17. In my opinion Phil Keaggy is the best guitarist in the world. There is also an urban legend that Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton also maintained this supposition on live television, but I would not believe it if I were you. Besides this, Phil Keaggy can get by well enough on his own merit without the recommendation of Hendrix or Clapton; anyone who can call their albums The Master and The Musician, which is an allusion to God and not himself, and Phantasmagorical: The Master and The Musician, Volume II fifteen years later must be playing above the average level.

  18. I am involved with a local community theatre program, and I hope to expand my horizons into straight plays soon.

  19. I have a rather massive CD collection. I have not kept up with technology and embraced the MP3 format yet because I put all of these that I possess onto CD-R. I did buy an MP3 player last year for the sole purpose of recording the Met's broadcasts, but it simply ceased to operate the very day after I could return it to the retailer if I found that I did not want it.

  20. I am the closest thing that comes to a technophile in my immediate family.

  21. For at least the past ten years, my family has been renovating both of the houses we have had the privelige of calling our abode. Naturally, I can almost do anything that is required in renovation. One thing I have learned from this experience is that everything takes longer than you think.

  22. Even though I graduated from high shcool a year and a half since, I still love school.

  23. I recently discovered that my blog is featured on a website listing theatre blogs. I hardly ever write anything about theatre or Broadway.

  24. I have only been to two first rate performances in my life, the first being a recital by Sarah Coburn, and the second was a touring production of The Phantom of the Opera. I regularly attend performances given by my local community theatre.

  25. I am not a picky eater. Most vegetables taste great to me, but I absolutely will not partake of the traditional German victual of sauer kraut. I had bad experiences with it as a child, and it has scarred me for life.

  26. I could eat pasta for the rest of my days.

  27. I can cook to a moderate degree.

  28. I actually make my bed daily.

  29. My part of the bedroom that I share with my 16 year old younger brother stays clean.

  30. I wear business class attire when I attend family functions or other events.

Well, there are thirty things that I thought you might like to know about me. My original goal was to put down one hundred minute facts, but it is rather difficult to think of so many things about one's self that do not seem mundane, and even most of these that I have related seem so to me. For all of those bloggers out there who have populated lists reaching such a high number of interesting things about themselves, I offer my congratualtions to you. Allow me to devote the remainder of this post to videos.

Yes, this previous one is a Christian song, and it is clear back from the "old days" of 2000

Now, since you have all indulged me for so long with my sampling of musical interests, let me display some classical operatic gems. In case you have not noticed, I have some predilection towards video posting.

I thank all of you for reading. I hope that I have not bored you too much or usurped too much of your time.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How is the World of Opera Perceived?

Having previously bought opera recital CD's from Amazon, I receive e-mail alerts from the world's largest online retailer periodically so that they may try to solicit further business from me. Their latest alert, one of the few I actually viewed, included quite a few things of interest to me.

First, it is necessary to mention that Naxos and Amazon have joined forces to expand their respective companies' markets, and they are offering free MP3 samplers to customers. While it is performed by interpreters who are unknown to many of us, the music is of good quality, and it is refreshing to the ear. I chose one entitled Eternal Baroque, and I am quite pleased with the caliber of the recitals that are presented. The other, which I picked from the "Other Customers also liked..." box, was called The Best of Naxos Early Music, and I had no qualms with acquiring it since this is a genre I stay up late on Monday nights to hear during Harmonia with Angela Mariani. Besides all of this, they are free, so one has no risk or obligation in getting them, so if you have any predisposition to this music, you may as well try it, and the fact that both of these samplers have five star ratings by customers is an enticing elective to pursue them.

Amazon's recommendations could use more thought to what is truly worthy of mention with less regard to popularity and marketability and more forethought to the integrity of the product. Their Editor's Picks' do not suffer so much from this infliction since they offer for your selection Joyce DiDonato's Furore, which I have yet to hear completely, Anne Sofie von Otter's recent recording of Bach, which Opera News' reviewers thought rather less than excellent, though they mislabeled the artist as violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter instead of the famed mezzo-soprano, and Song of Songs by Stile Anticho, to name a few; however, their list of new and notable releases leaves something to be desired in the way of excellence. Firstly, they only list two albums of vocal music, one of Handel's Messiah and another of Bach Cantatas by soprano Elizabeth Futral, so it relies heavily on traditional classical music to fill its queue of recordings. Secondly, the artists they choose to present, except Evigny Kissin, are people of whom I have never heard prior to their mention of them. Why did they not choose to include Magdalena Kozena's new recording of Vivaldi arias, her equally enthralling Songs My Mother Taught Me, The Celtic Viol by Jordi Savall, or La Barcha D'Amore by Concert des Nations? We can have no such luck as that.

Concerning more immediately the title of this post, I have been wondering in recent days how the remainder of the population perceives those of us who entertain a favorable disposition towards opera. Is there really so much difference between us and fans of anything else? I should think not since the common denominator uniting all of us as audiences of any type of media is a matter of personal taste; therefore, the next time someone tells you that they cannot understand your liking of something so obviously archaic, antiquated, and unpopular as opera, after you chide them for their sarcastic disregard of polite manners towards your idea of entertainment, you may explain that you like it for the very reson they enjoy a different genre of music, a selection of sport, or a choice of hobby, and that is because it is merely a matter of taste. Of course, there is also the question as to why we who enjoy opera incessantly attempt to saturate the next generation of those whom we hope will possess some deference towards our beloved art with a modern portrayal of works. In my humble opinion the opera's necessary elements, which are the music and the libretto, should be adequate to maintain the popularity of any work. If this is not the case, then it can be surmised that the work will fall out of fashion with the new audience, and this will allow the creativity of new composers to flourish more easily since the public will look for new works to satisfy their expectations. However, there is a caveat with this system, and this is that opera as we currently know it, resting heavily upon its past achievements by the legendary composers, could possibly vanish. Could we really imagine opera without the works of Handel? Are any masterpieces actually safe? La Boheme might not fall victim to such an injustice since its story and music remain easily accesible to every new demographic that sees it, but in reply to the question itself, theoretically the answer is no.

Other things that I would like to iterate are as follows. I made a visit to a local library yesterday, and I was excited to see that my library system had procured some new opera and classical music recordings this year. Most of their acquisitions were unknown to me, but this is an ideal opportunity for me to learn new things about new works of which I know nothing. I may seize this wonderful allowance, but I digress. My readers who know anything of the Met's next, almost current season are anxious to see the prospect of Mary Zimmerman's new production of Gioacchino Rossini's Armida starring Renee Fleming. These informed people may also know that the plot of Armida, which I believe dates from classical antiquity, was also set to music by Haydn and, if my memory serves me well, Gluck. I was able to check out Hadyn's opera Armida, which the library only recently acquired, with Cecilia Bartoli and Patricia Pettibon. I have yet to make a foray into this piece, which promises to be one not soon forgotten, but I hope it is everything I expect it to be. If only my local library can get Bartoli and Juan Diego Florez's recent offering of Bellini's La Sonnambula, I shallbe almost content with their present selection of recordings that interest and inspire me.

For those of you who have any interest in Magdalena Kozena, three of her recordings, including Ah! mio cor, are available for download on Rapidshare. I use to find things of interest on Rapidshare. The search engine is by no means complete, but it does a laudable job of finding what I want.

Thank you all for reading my posts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Magdalena Kozena Singing Vivaldi? Sounds Like a Winner To Me!

BBC Music magazine has announced Magdalena Kozena's new recording of arias by Antonio Vivaldi to be their top pick of the new releases among the category of opera recordings for the month of September. Having heard her sing Lascia chi'o pianga from Handel's Rinaldo, which is featured on her disc entitled Ah, mio cor!, I should think that this recital should be excellently sung. If you are interested, you can listen to excerpts of it by clicking here. One may notice that Kozena's voice sounds a little lower in this sample than Cecilia Bartoli's if we may compare the two's Vivaldi recordings. Would you actually believe that some reviewers on Amazon said that Bartoli did grave injustices to Vivaldi's works? My opinion is that if he were here today, I do not think he should mind her recording even if the arias were misinterpreted, and I do not think they were. Bartoli has always struck me as a singer of innate musicality and very erudite in her research of music in historic context, but I digress. To return to Magdalena Kozena, the mezzo soprano from the Czech Republic is married to conductor Sir Simon Rattle, who is frequently performing with her in the concert hall and on disc. Rattle is supposed to conduct at the Met soon, so let us hope that Kozena is part of that engagement. I should like to see her in a Handel opera, at least something from the Baroque era, for that is where she is at her best in my mind.

If I may remove myself from the subject of opera for the present and alight on the topic of my personal life, I should like to mention that Poteet's production of Fiddler on the Roof ended much too soon for my liking; nevertheless, I have plans to be in Steven Schwartz's Children of Eden this November and December, and I am excited that I was asked to do it. From what I understand of it, it is a difficult show vocally since the ensemble has to split into nine vocal parts in one song in particular, but I am unacquainted with it otherwise. I also have aspirations for doing the musical version of Little Women in the spring, but I am not sure that I will be cast in it. Poteet is producing High School Musical next summer, and I do not think I want to do that show. I may be asked to do it since there are few young men who want to audition for it, but if I am not asked, I think I shall abstain.

Here it bears mentioning that after Fiddler on the Roof ended, I promptly shaved my beard off of my face and cut my hair, both of which were becoming increasingly annoying to me. On July 24th I had a wonderful surprise awaiting me when I went to a friend's birthday party. A dear friend of mine who moved to New York City more than a year since came back to Oklahoma City for a visit of all of her former haunts and acquaintances. Not knowing the proper rules of decency in such a situation, I approached her upon my recognition of her face after she had seen our show that evening. I greeted her in the kindest manner, and she eagerly returned my salutation with an embrace. When I arrived at the party, which was accomodated by a local restaurant, I was informed of her presence there, so I, unaware of the dictates of propiety concerning the matter, went to her respective table and inquired whether she would spare me some few moments in conversation before she departed if this were completely commodious and agreeable to her, to which she replied that she certainly would do so. Therefore, I was surprised when she visited my table some ten minutes later before she greeted anyone else and held discourse with me. As friends are wont to do, we spoke on all of the important developments that had taken place in our lives in the interim since we had last entertained the pleasure of seeing each other, which made for interesting dialogue between us.

I beg the gracious forgiveness of my readers if I have rambled incessantly without thought to the patience of the aforementioned audience, but I was desirous to include something in laud of God's providence, for even when we think that a desire of ours is beneath the care of God, who must mange all things in the universe, He never neglects the opportunity to show us that the opposite is true. I am immensely thankful to Him for maintaining my relationships with friends and acquaintances who have removed themselves from their former proximity to me. Thank you for perusing my posts.


The Coming Season, Part Two

Since my last post, I have learned of a few other interesting events in my state. At the risk of saturation, please indulge me to include them.
  1. Celtic Woman is making a visit to to Oklahoma City at the Ford Center on November 11, 2009. Although I am not familiar with more than a few of their latest members, my sister would at least like Chloe Agnew. My premature opinion is that they were at their best when they were comprised of Orla, Lisa, Chloe, Hayley, and Mairead (?). Their musical selections can become repetitive, but I am willing to bear some of the pop influences for some of their more traditional pieces. Look them up on YouTube if you have never before experienced them.
  2. The local universities are contributing to the world of opera with their respective productions of Die Fledermaus, Cosi fan tutte, and Don Giovanni. I would probably skip the Strauss comedy and devote myself to Mozart's operas since I understand that Die Fledermaus is annually presented by many universities. Without a suitable opera house within the hundred mile range, these universities offer me a chance of seeing Mozart performed live.
  3. Kristen Chenoweth is scheduled to perform with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic in 2010. Though she will invariably endear herself to us with her performances of Broadway songs, I wonder if she will offer any operatic arias for a diverse musical palette? I see this concert easily selling out far in advance of its date.

Thank you for reading my post, and I hope that everyone is enjoying their last few days of summer!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Coming Season Brings Great Joy To My Ears (And Hopefully My Eyes)

I have been browsing the Internet of late examining whether or not the upcoming classical music season was to be a memorable one for me, and it turns out that there is plenty to adore, even if you live in Oklahoma, over next season. Some events to whet your curiosity are:

  1. Anonymous 4 is coming to Tulsa! They are presenting their program entitled A Medieval Ladymass on May 11, 2010, and it is needless to say that I am excited! I desperately wish to see the quartet perform live. If you have not acquainted yourself with their angelic melodies, then you simply must click here without a moment's delay. Their recital derives its material from their CD's entitled An English Ladymass and A Lammas Ladymass. They are scheduled to appear March 11, 2010, and I hope to be in attendance at this concert.
  2. Soprano Sarah Coburn is also making a visit to Oklahoma City where she shall present a recital program entitled Baroque, Bel Canto, and Beyond, which sounds as if it shall have something for everyone in it. A particular specialty of hers is the bel canto repertoire, so that shall be a rare treat to us here in Oklahoma. This recital is offered by Canterbury Choral Society, and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic accompanies Ms. Coburn. I have seen her before when she sang a recital courtesy of Civic Music Association, and even with only a piano providing the music of the afternoon, I was mesmerized by her diverse program; it should be noted that this was the year before she starred opposite Placido Domingo in Tan Dun's The First Emperor at the Metropolitan Opera. This takes place May 15, 2010.
  3. How could this list be complete without some mention of the Met's exciting upcoming season, and while last season may be said to surpass this one for Renee Fleming, I think Ms. Fleming's two operas billed this season are admirable followings for her previous three engagements, especially her turn as Rusalka. This season we have to our credit Renee Fleming in Der Rosenkavalier with Susan Graham as Oktavian and in Live in HD, and there is also the Met's premiere of Armida with Juan Diego Florez, Lawrence Brownlee, and Barry Banks along with three other tenors! This last opera is not on the broadcast roster, I do not believe, but it is in Live in HD.
  4. If I might continue with the Met's season, I also anticipate Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Florez in La Fille du Regiment. I must say that I was not jovial about all of their new productions, especially the retirement of Zeffirelli's Tosca, but some of them look rather nice in the limited stages in which I have seen them.

I am sure there is much more I could say about the next season, but I regret that the constraints of time do not allow me to do so at this time. Thank you for reading this humble, meager post of mine. I hope it has entertained and informed you more about our mutual liking of opera, and I pray that I do not bore you with my incessant ramblings. May God continue to bless all of you every day.


Monday, July 20, 2009

A Grand Return...

My last post was a couple of weeks since, but the interim has seemed something nearer to a month. The reason that I have not posted anything in so short a time is that my computer crashed about a week and a half ago, so I have been unable to post anything.

I do not have very much to say in this post, but I want to include the news that Fiddler on the Roof opened on Friday, the 17th, to a full house, and we have made it through one whole weekend. While we are performing, I have only just recently learned that we have an aspiring opera singer in our cast portraying the character of Hodel. Despite the fact that she is rather older than me, I managed to pluck up the audacity to inquire as to her favorite singers one evening before we began our performance, and these are who she mentioned: Natalie Dessay is her favorite singer, but she has recently lost some respect for her since she learned that Ms. Dessay indulges in the pleasures of tobacco; other performers she admires are Dawn Upshaw singing German Lieder (I thought it odd that she did not mention Ms. Upshaw's English repertoire for my part), Kathleen Battle, although she is a diva, and she provided this last attribute to the soprano, and someone with a "funny name," if I may borrow her description, whom she could not recall. I have a feeling that these are not her only favorites, for how could they be with the art of opera possessing so many talented performers? She did not include Renee Fleming in her list, and I said nothing of her, either, for I did not desire to seem rude by making my preferences known without them first being solicited.

Thank you for reading. I plan to soon include a list of things that readers might like to know about me, so look forward to it in the near future, and feel free to remind me of things you would like to see on it.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Something Worth Knowing

My readers may remember that Poteet Theatre went to compete in Washington at the National AACT Festival in Tacoma in June. As we expected they would, they came back with some awards which amounted to our production being given third place out all of the nation's community theatre companies that participated in their local community theatre competitions. In Tacoma there were twelve companies that were invited to compete, and any military base can enter a production.

Poteet's production of John and Jen was invited to an international competition in Heidelberg, Germany, and if we raise enough money, we are going to present it there in October! Of course, being an opera aficionado, I would have to visit some opera house in close proximity to the festival besides immersing myself in the local culture. From thence it is 2 hours and 44 minutes to Bayreuth, which is the home of Richard Wagner's famed opera house. The Stuutgart Oper is even closer at 1 hour and 17 minutes away. Unfortunately, I do not think that they have anything showing in October, and besides this small disappointment, I do not think that I could even dare to venture to Europe since my parents just watched the movie Taken.

Thank you for perusing this post.

Happy Independence Day

Today, even though I am posting this later than the traditional holiday, I would like to remind my readers about their freedoms and how precious they are. We are blessed to live in such a country where we have such liberties as we are afforded and where we may represent ourselves in our government. There are many of us who believe that our government is trying to take these common rights from us, and whether they are or not, we must still defend them, for they are ours to possess. Indeed, there has been no other civilization to offer its citizens such liberty as as ours has been founded upon, and we must carefully guard our government against those who would say that our government should have complete control over us; moreover, let us recall that it is we, the American populace, who provide them with whatever power over us we wish them to exercise. This power should not be employed to protect us from ourselves, but rather to protect us from further tyrannization from either outside sources or own ambitious people. I thank all of those who attempt to accomplish this end. I also extend my gratitude to all of those who fight for our country to protect us from whatever foreign power who wishes our demise. If it were not for these dedicated individuals, it is certain that our country would have been long since seized by invaders who would force unthinkable conditions upon us. I pray for God's blessing upon all of you. May you all return safely home soon, and for those who do not, we all mourn greatly for our loss.

Thank you all for reading.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Playing Catch Up

For all of the followers and readers of my blog posts who peruse my blog with any frequency, you may have noticed that I have not posted with any regularity of late. This is for the simple reason that I have not had adequate time to devote to a worthy post. With rehearsals for Fiddler on the Roof, every spare minute that I have possess has either been reserved for that or else some industrious occupation.

I received my July issue of Opera News, and I was blessed to receive it since it concerns the topic of education as it relates to every aspect of opera. Naturally this also includes the education of opera singers, and I am glad to say that I read some advice that I hope to remember if God ever provides the means for me to become an opera singer. In addition to this wealth of information, Brian Kellow also included a review of soprano Kate Royal's newest release, Midsummer Night. In her lower register she sounds like Renee Fleming, and here it bears mention that she includes two of Renee's signature arias on this recording, those being Dvorak's Song to the Moon and Erich Korngold's "Marietta's Lied," but in her higher notes she has more of an edge to her timbre, which gives her a flexibility in genres.

Poteet competes in Tacoma, Washington, tomorrow for the national AACT festival. You may recall that I mentioned that the production had won top honors in its previous competitions at the state and regional levels with our mounting of John and Jen. The staff and cast of the show has been there since the beginning of this week, and from what I have heard, they have been enjoying their sojourn in our country's northwest. It is certain that they are delighted to be rid of the 100 degree temperatures we have had in Oklahoma for the past two weeks, but I have not been quite so blessed since much of my work of late has been in the outdoors.

I have been enjoying the "endless pleasures," if I may borrow the title from one of Handel's arias, of Baroque music. It never ceases to amaze me how new it seems to me each time I sample some jewel, particularly vocal music, from this period or from the beauty of ancient music. Cecilia Bartoli's Opera Proibita and The Vivaldi Album and Renee Fleming's Handel are three of my favorite recordings showcasing this music.

I was fortunate to see a little part of Puccini's Madama Butterfly from the Met's Live in HD series from this season on PBS with Patricia Racette and Marcello Giordani. I must confess that the Bunraku puppet of Trouble became annoying with the two operators of it on the stage at all times. The production itself was rather a good one. I have not seen a better one, but then I have not seen another one, so I cannot say that there is a better one. Unfortunately, I was not able to see even a majority of it because my siblings desired to watch something more suited to their tastes. This reminds me how excellent of a season this past one was for the Met and Renee Fleming fans. I can only imagine how she shall shine in Der Rosenkavalier and Armida. I also cannot wait for her new CD of verismo arias conducted by Marco Armiliato to be released. I have yet to get her latest offering of Strauss's Four Last Songs, but I was more excited when I heard that she was recording this new project with Maestro Armiliato.

Thank you all for reading.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Other Music Genres And A Wonderful Surprise From The Met

In reverse logical order, bear me the pardon to address the final subject of my title in the first portion of my post. My readers may recall to their immediate memories that a friend of mine, Jay, went to New York for vacation recently. He sent me a postcard featuring a view of New York harbor with the skyline of Manhattan in the background with a delightful communique on the back of it, but his thinking of me was not limited to that alone; while he was there visiting friends, seeing Broadway shows, and almost relaxing, he made a journey to the Met at Lincoln Center, and he visited their gift shop to buy me some souvenir of his sojourn in that famous metropolis. When I saw him a day after his return home, he presented me with, first, the Met's season book for this season, which absolutely made my day, and, moreover, to add considerably to his personal expense while there, he also bought me the Met's Celebrating 125 Years CD. It has glorious music on it. I have had the immense pleasure of hearing luminary artists from the Met's broadcast history who set the standards for their respective roles. I was so happy that Jay thought of me in such a way, and, of course, I thanked him for his generosity in reciprocal fashion.

As to the other subject of my post, I have been perusing other music genres of late, and I have realized that I have a great liking for early music, especially that which dates from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. If one visits the Alia Vox website, one will hear exceptional music from the latter epoch. Jordi Savall, founder of that label and a gifted strings player, has just released a new Celtic themed album, a preview of which may be heard on BBC Music Magazine's website. It definitely does sound Celtic unlike some of the modern music that claims to be so. Another genre that I have been enjoying is typical New Age piano music. Some of the harmonies, while oftentimes simple, are completely beautiful, and they are excellent at invoking a particular mood. Two selections I would suggest for one to hear are Enya's Drifting and Portrait. They will immediately calm you and make you feel better in generally any situation.

That is all for the present. I hope you are enjoying reading my posts.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rehearsals, Work; You Know How It Is

My title describes the situation of my life exactly except that I neglected to include my academic pursuits, for which I have had little time of late, in it. To begin, then, my sister and I went to our first rehearsal for Fiddler on the Roof last evening, and I was ready for these to commence. We have a cast of about 55, which is a considerable decrease from our regular amount of performers in our summer musicals, but this smaller cast almost makes me think that our show will be even better than previous ones have been. Most of the principals in our show are perfect for their parts, but I am not sure about the others since I have never met them. I think our greatest difficulty shall be mastering our Russian accents. Some of our cast members have likened it to having a lazy tongue with a marble in the front of one's mouth (try saying that with a Russian accent), and it seems to be a comparable analogy for those of us with little experience with Russian. I have finally found a language in which I have no degree of proficiency that I must use. Usually, I can discern what I am saying in any of the Romance and many of the Teutonic languages, but Russian and Finnish are alleged to be two of the most difficult languages to grasp in the world; it is good, then, that I am learning the proper accent to use when speaking this lexicon. Perhaps I shall learn Russian in the future.

As for work, I had it pretty easy in the professional realm this week as my employer was on vacation in New York City seeing shows and visiting with friends. However, my parents decided to capitalize on this period of relaxation for me and remodel part of our kitchen while I was at home. For about the space of a week, the wall separating our kitchen from our bathroom was open, so every spare minute of mine has been devoted to manual or mental labor.

You may recall that I said something about my debut as an author in a recent post. I finished the short history of my local community theatre before the thirtieth of the preceding month. I am largely dissatisfied with the finished product, but there is little that can placate me since I discovered how truly little I knew of the history of the venue while I was writing it. Soon, I shall rewrite it after I interview several people who were influential in creating the history of the theatre, and I am confident that when I understand the facts from the sources, I shall write something worthy of our newly redesigned website, which brings me to my next piece of news. I am one of only three people who have actually seen the new design of our website, and, while it is not online yet, you shall have to take my word for it when I say that it is truly an excellent piece of work. It is such a graceful, elegant departure from what we currently have, and it rivals the sites of some of our more professional theatre companies in the state.

As for opera, a subject which is difficult to follow in the summer months, let me say that I wish that I could go and see Dawn Upshaw in recital in Virginia. There was an advertisement for it in the May issue of Opera News, I believe. Her voice is so pure, and her range is almost unbelievable. I wish she would sing in an opera at the Met. The role I would love to hear her sing is Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo. I would also think that her voice would be ideal for the Handel repertoire. Listen to her in this video on YouTube of her singing With Darkness Deep from Theodora.

One hears and understands every syllable she sings, and usually sopranos have trouble with their diction in English, but Ms. Upshaw clearly does not. She is also an accomplished singer in the realm of Broadway's repertoire. She does not disappoint in this video from Carnegie Hall's Opening Night 2008 in celebration of Leonard Bernstein's 90th birthday. She sings with Christine Ebersole, Thomas Hampson, and (yes, really) conductor Micheal Tilson Thomas. Yo-yo Ma was also there, and he played an amazing cello solo.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, and thank you for reading.