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!