Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Soprano Sarah Coburn and some new songs on my playlist




First, I would like to explain some of the recent additions to my playlist. If anyone actually listens to the music beyond the first track, they will notice that I have uploaded quite a few more selections to this playlist of music which says so much about my diverse interests in music. Most of the new material is from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but I have also included two songs I recently discovered by Renee Fleming, which are probably my favorite new additions, and some music from the Christian metal scene by Stryper and Whitecross, two bands who are replete with talent but are sadly dormant, although that may change in the near future. All of these unconventional tracks on an opera aficionado's playlist may leave room for speculation as to my "true tastes" in music, but I can assure my readers that nothing could be further from the truth. On occasions far and few between my regular listening habits, I sometimes listen to the hard rock and metal of the Christian genre and I give in to urges to hear the classical crossover melodies of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Let it be known that I listen to classical music and opera almost exclusively.

All of that being said, a few notes about the new pieces are in order. I have seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra twice live here in Oklahoma City, and I must say that they sound much better live in concert than on CD. All of the selections that I have provided here for the listening pleasure of my readers are the ones that I like best. Wish Lizst, Wizards In Winter, Christmas Eve In Sarajevo, and Queen of the Winter Night are beyond description live. If anyone ever has the chance to see them on tour, they ought to not miss the opportunity. As I said earlier, the two Renee Fleming songs I found are probably my favorites that I was able to add. The final song, Du bist die Ruh' from her recording entitled The Schubert Album is among my top-ten favorite songs to hear. This version is exceptionally beautiful. Finally, the songs by Whitecross and Stryper are some of their best known works, and they are memories of an era when the Christian music scene had rather more talent in it than it currently possesses. It can be argued that the passing of the era came in 2005 with the retirement of Christian rock music pioneers Petra. They had been around for thirty-three years, so I can understand why they wanted to retire, but when one hears their live album Farewell and watches the videos on YouTube of drummer Paul Simmons' drum solos, one cannot help but wonder how their playing would have been on a well-crafted studio recording; they could have done a remix of Jekyll and Hyde with longer guitar solos, more drum solos, and a couple of new songs. I think Bob Hartman, their guitarist, could really have returned to the Wake Up Call and On Fire eras with his playing. It could have been great. As to why my playlist will not allow me to randomize the starting songs and the order in which the rest of them are played, I do not know, so it appears that you will have to scroll through the songs to see what new material I have added.


Enough of that; allow me to speak of opera, the thing you visited to see. Some years ago soprano Sarah Coburn, a coloratura soprano able to sing with the best artists around with equal musicianship, came to a local university to give a recital. I, who was hungry for opera then and unaware that there were different calibers of performers, was allowed to attend the event. I dressed in my best and only suit for the event, and when I arrived, I was not required to pay for my ticket because someone else had purchased too many for their party, and they gave me one. I sat on the front row in the middle of the concert hall, the most ideal of seats really, and I prepared myself for a most enjoyable Sunday afternoon. Ms. Coburn, who has recently risen to quite a level of notoriety within the opera world since, did not disappoint all of us who filled the venue, and I do not belive that there was an empty seat. It is a performance that I vividly remember. One of the selections she sang was Rossini's Una voce poco fa, and it is to this performance of it that I compare all others who sing it. After the recital, which lasted some three hours or more, Ms. Coburn signed autographs for every audience member who cared to stand in line to get it. Opera News praises her voice as "blissfully sublime," and be assured, dear, gentle reader, that they do not lie about this fact. I, the young, ignorant person I was then, asked her whether or not she was going to be featured on any upcoming Met broadcasts. She told me regretably no, but that she could not wait to be, so ever since, I have remained hopeful. She has sung at the Met; she was in the first and second runs of Tan Dun's opera The First Emperor with Placido Domingo. Recently she sang with Placido Domingo at WNO in Handel's Tamerlano, and she has sung in Rossini's Tancredi. I cannot wait to hear and see her again.
Not to perk up the hopes of those who might wish me well or to extend my little amount of good luck or providential protection, whichever you prefer, but I may be allowed to go see the recital Renee Fleming is giving in Houston, Texas, but this is only if the tickets for a gala celebration featuring dancing and dinner following the performance do not fill the seats of the concert hall prematurely. If I am so fortunate as to see what promises to be the most fascinating and anticipated piece of entertainment in my life, it would be my first time seeing Renee Fleming live in anything and, hopefully, to meet her. As soon as I learn anything about it one way or another, I will be sure to post about the developments here. May God bless all of you.
-Tyler.

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