Monday, August 23, 2010

Medici TV

Because of my late fascination with Twitter and using it at as a means to learn more about opera, I discovered an incredible find in a website called Medici TV. Medici TV is an online subscription service that specializes in providing classical music and opera performances for their members to watch. Their catalogue includes quite an exhaustive amount of selections of performances from the Verbier festival, and I watched Renee Fleming's recital with the Berlin Philharmoniker Orchestra, which was conducted by Maestro Ion Marin, and I was thoroughly impressed with the repertoire of the concert. Any devoted aficionado of Renee Fleming's will enjoy this performance, which can be streamed for free, because it displays so much of her recorded work. She sings the Final Scene from Richard Strauss's Capriccio, Marietta's Lied from Erich Korngold's Die tote Stadt, all three of the La Boheme selections by Puccini and Leoncavallo from her Verismo album, and O mio babbino, caro. The program is entitled A Night of Love, and I enthusiastically enjoyed the performance. The venue for the performance was an outdoor ampithteatre, and it looked exceptionally inviting. Looking at the audience who experienced this performance personally, I was deeply envious because you could see that many patrons had brought picnic meals along with them to enjoy the evening, and most of them appeared to be having a marvelous time. One of the things which irked me, however, was that, when the camera focused on them, some people in the audience looked as if they would rather be anywhere else but there.

The vidoe stream is about two hours, but it is well worth it. Ion Marin does an admirable job of leading the Berlin Philharmoniker Orchestra, and Fleming sounds just as excellent as she usually does. O mio babbino caro sounds almost exactly as it does on her self-titled album, and I thought she provided something for every audience member to enjoy in her selections. Her attire was also gorgeous. Capriccio's final scene did not seem quite so long as I remembered it, and I found myself drifting into the music rather more easily this time than when I watched her DVD performance of the opera from Paris. I always anticipate the Korngold selection with elation, but I wish she would sing Ich ging zu ihm more often, for that music is exceptionally beautiful.

Finally, one might wish to view other concerts from the Verbier Festival, and I know I am looking forward to seeing one by Angelika Kirschlager, so feel free to visit MediciTV's website to enjoy opera to its fullest extent. I thank all of you for reading my humble posts, and may God continue to bless us.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Renee Fleming in Armida on PBS, and Opera on Twitter

Concerning the first part of my post's title,  Mary Zimmerman's latest production for the Metropolitan Opera, Gioacchino Rossini's Armida, will be aired on PBS later this month. My local station is scheduled to air it on the twenty-eighth, and I am immensely excited to see this again after being one of the nearly two hundred thousand audience members who saw it in May as part of the Met's Live in HD season. The cast included the radiant Renee Fleming as Armida, who is supposed to be a sorceress, the incomparable Lawrence Brownlee as Rinaldo, who falls in love with Armida, the surprisingly talented John Osborne, and a former cast member to Renee in Handel's Rodelinda when it was last presented at the Metropolitan Opera, Kobie van Rensburg. Because I immensely enjoyed this performance, when I discovered that the Met was scheduled to revive this production for the 2010-11 season with much of the same cast including Fleming, I elected to choose it as the anchor of my entertainment for my maiden visit to New York City next year.

The production itself was rather lacking in developing and advancing the chronicle of events, and I did not think that it gave enough emphasis to the magic potential of the production, since this was a critical point of the Met's marketing of this production, and, for evidence of this, I refer to the line that I constantly read which regularly mentioned Fleming starring as "Rossini's sorceress". I wish Zimmerman would think in such visionary spectrums as Robert Lepage or in such wonderfully revitalizing terms as Bartlett Sher. Beyond the failings of the production, I must say that the singing was most enjoyable, and the tenors performed exceptionally well. I was impressed by the varying vocal tones of the different tenors, who are all respected as opulent performers of the Bel Canto repertoire. Lawrence Brownlee's high notes sounded almost effortless, and I must admit that I was extraordinarily envious of his marvelous voice. I would appreciate seeing him perform in other Rossini operas that are rarely performed, so I would be anxious to see him Guillame Tell somewhere.

As for the second portion of my title, it may have come to some of my readers' attention that I have included a Twitter widget to my blog's sidebar, which implies that I have a Twitter account. I have found a wealth of information through both Chelsea and SarahB, and I would like to think that I have become a better acquaintance to both of them in the process. Chelsea and SarahB, I proffer my immense gratitude to you both for so readily accepting my presence on Twitter and through following your respective blogs, and I have exuberantly enjoyed learning so much from the both of your collective knowledge of opera. I have also discovered that opera has an enormous presence on Twitter. I follow sixty-nine people or organizations, most of which are related to opera or the arts, which is a considerable amount of entities when one considers the limited amount of time that I have spent using Twitter. It turns out that almost any piece of relevant news to opera that can be expressed in one hundred forty characters or less can be found on this rather unique social networking website. Danielle De Niese, Renee Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Thomas Hampson, the Metropolitan Opera, and most of the other major opera houses of the nation, and, indeed, the world, have Twitter feeds, and I have collected all of the ones of which I am aware into a list, which is what I display in my Twitter widget as a feed. The amount of information one can receive from these short communiques is most definitely immense, and it is not difficult to hold conversations on a given subject between a group of people, for Chelsea, SarahB, and I discussed American opera and Tobias Pickers's An American Tragedy recently. I hope that this new medium of communication affords us as great an opportunity at discovering new things about opera as any of its predecessors, and I am pleased to think that I am an humble part of it. I currently possess five followers to my tweets, as they are colloquially known by account holders to the service, and among this group of individuals is Carnegie Hall's Twitter account. I am most exuberant about this, and, while my cause for rejoice may be slight in the minds of some, I am honored that I am referenced by such a revered establishment as it is among our world of entertainment venues.

I thank all of youfor continuing to peruse my posts, and I continue to pray for God's blessings to each of you.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra's 2010-11 Engagements

Renée Fleming at the 2009 premiere of the Metr...Image via Wikipedia

While the European ones are entirely another matter, I do not usually follow the recitals and concerts of orchestras throughout the United States. In the case of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, however, I have made a notable exception, for I understand that Renee Fleming is scheduled to perform with them on Saturday, October 2, 2010. Usually, I look into all of my favorite singers' European schedules to see where they are performing with orchestras for the chance to see if the recital will be broadcast, but those in the United States are rarely broadcast. The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra has made a contract with KWMU for that public radio station to play most of their Saturday evening concerts on the air, and I am of the opinion that such is the case regarding Renee Fleming's recital! The gala event begins at seven o'clock P.M., but the airing does not start until an hour later; of course, this could be a delay in the broadcast or something, which I greatly hope it to be, and I hope to record it with Audacity.

When I learned of Renee Fleming's appearance with the orchestra, I elected to learn what other soloists they would present this season, and I was surprised to find the following list of performers that I shall relate. This season promises concerts by Louis Langree conducting Anne Akiko Meyers in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3, K 216, Joshua Bell playing Tchaikovsky, pianist Orli Shaham performs Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Andre Watts lends his talents to the Piano Concerto by Edvard Grieg, Emanuel Ax offers Brahams' Piano Concerto, No. 1, Semyon Bychkov conducts an evening highlighting Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, and he returns to conduct Mahler's Sixth Symphony, Chris Botti has an engagement to fulfill with them, Christine Brewer is the soprano soloist in Mahler's Second Symphony, Yefim Bronfman plays some of Tchaikovsky's piano melodies, and Cyndia Sieden and Richard Troxell lend their voices to Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. That appears to be a most exceptional season for claasical music, and this is not even the New York Philharmonic or the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the best part remains that most of these performances shall be broadcast on Missouri's public radio station KWMU. That is a most exciting piece of news for those of us who like to preserve recordings of recitals and performances for our listening pleasure.
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

$20 Million Pays for a Concert Hall of 875 Seats?!

Perhaps I do not know anything about the current level of inflation to the American Dollar, or perhaps I am merely naive about these sorts of things, but I did think that such an expense for so relatively small a performance space was rather extravagant.

In Edmond, Oklahoma, the Armstrong Auditorium is scheduled to open on September 5, 2010, with a performance of Felix Medelsohn's Elijah, which will be performed by the Herbert W. Armstrong College Choral Union, and the soloists are David Grogan (baritone), Paula Malone (soprano), Pamela Williams (mezzo-soprano), and James Doing (tenor). The building itself is most beautifully adorned and appointed with luxurious accents; in fact, the first word that my city's major newspaper, The Oklahoman, employed when describing it was palatial.

When one approaches the structure, one must cross the plaza in the foreground, which is made of travertine stone imported from Turkey. As one can barely see in this photo, there is also a 40,000 gallon reflecting pool in front of the main facade, and inside of the pool is the sculpture Swans in Flight by British sculptor David Wynne. The lobby is encased by glass on three sides, and the roof is supported by twelve forty-eight feet tall columns, which do remind one of the Ancient Greeks and their structures in Athens and Corinth. The lobby boasts at least three Swarovski-Strass crystal chandeliers weighing up to two tons and holding between 15,000 and 21,000 pices of crystal each suspended over a carpet of royal purple. Other decorations that adorns the room are Baccarat crsytal candelabra used by the Shah of Iran to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Empire of Persia, panels of caramel colored onyx mined in Azerbijan and polished in Viareggio, Italy, and American Cherry wood panels extend from floor to ceiling with matching grains.

While all of this is most opulent for the eye to behold, one cannot help but to think that twenty million dollars could have provided at least over a thousand seats. Nevertheless, I am most elated at the prospects for this new venue, and I hope that it serves to bring many excellent artists to perform in our metropolis area. The inaugural season is scheduled to showcase The 5 Browns, the Eroica Trio, The Vienna Boys' Choir, the Academy of St. Martin's in the Fields Orchestra, a performance of Swan Lake by the Russian National Ballet Theatre, Andre Watts, Anderson-Roe Concert Piano Duo, and Opole: National Philharmonic of Poland.
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Monday, August 2, 2010

The 5 Browns Go To Hollywood

Musical phenomenon The 5 Browns have released a new album, and it promises to expand their audience to an even wider demographic. Many might balk at the idea, but their renditions of classic film scores are imaginative and refreshing. Their website features a new blog from the siblings, which I hope lasts longer than their previous one, and their website has been completely redesigned. They are scheduled to perform in Edmond, Oklahoma, on November 4, 2010, and I shall do all in my power to attend that concert.
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