I was graciously allowed to listen to George Frederick Handel's Rodelinda featuring the all star cast of Renee Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, David Daniels, Kobie van Rensburg, and John Relyea last evening. I am pleased to announce that it was just as excellent as I remember it being when I first heard it some years ago in a live broadcast. Because of my experience, I am considering purchasing a month's subscription to the service; imagine all of the operas that I could hear, ones that I wish I could have heard when I knew nothing of opera whatsoever. With an ever expanding catalog of performances available to the public who subsribe to the service, I would say that it is indeed an excellent way to experience opera. Think of hearing the premiere of Otto Schenk's Ring Cycle with Hildegard Behrens and James Morris among other legendary Wagnerians.
In other news, Elina Garanca, Anna Netrebko, and Joseph Calleja head up a new recording of Bellini's I Capuleti e I Montecchi. For this weekend only, Arkiv Music is offering purchasers the opportunity to obtain this new recording of the work, which Eric Fielder, their president, claims easily could be the best recording of the opera ever produced, at the price of $27.99 compared to the list price of $35.98. This may not be much of a savings, but for those aficionados who cannot wait to buy a new recording with their favorite artists, it gives them an excuse, even if this is only a minscule one, to buy it with some ease on their frugal conscience. I bought Renee Fleming's Homage: The Age of the Diva CD when it was first released for $16.00 at Best Buy (Yes, they actually had it, and I grabbed the last one on the shelf, which may have been the only one they had in stock to begin.), and I did not care that I paid close to full price for it because it was my first Renee Fleming recording; however, I digress from the original point of this paragraph. I think that this recording of Bellini's version of Romeo and Juliet is a fine one.
It is also worthy of reporting that Opera News' May issue, which is their annual travel issue, profiles Scandanavia. Some of the images of opera houses in the cold climates of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are especially picturesque. My ideal vacation in Europe would be to travel from country to country just to visit the summer festivals and the opera houses there. If I ever do that, which would probably require at least three months to do properly, I hope I am still young enough to enjoy it and not quite so old to miss the performers to whom I avidly listen today.
On an entirely unrelated subject, I often find myself surprised by how often I ignore classical music. This may seem rather difficult to comprehend since classical music is what created opera in the first place, but I find myself utterly amazed at some of the classical music selections for which Arkiv Music provides samples. Recently I heard a guitar piece played by Sharon Isbin that was simply gorgeous, and I thought to myself that if I had seen that recording on a shelf in a store, I probably would have instantly passed it, but now I want to expand my adoration for classical music into other subgenres and instruments. Let us not forget that opera was born of classical music.
As always, I thank all of you who devote your time to reading my humble posts.