Monday, January 16, 2012

The Addams Family National Tour

   If I may dedicate this post to the often forgotten alternate topic of the listed subject matter of my blog, Broadway, I should like to discuss the national touring production of Broadway's late production of The Addams Family. This new musical makes its debut in Oklahoma City this evening, and I shall be witnessing it tomorrow evening at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City. The tour is welcomed and presented by Celebrity Attractions, which is responsible for much of the theatrical productions of high quality in my state. Through the generosity of the organization, and in conjunction with their desire to increase their social media identity, they hold a contest for their shows that allow their followers on Twitter to witness a performance in exchange for sharing their experience through the means of Twitter. Along with a few other grateful patrons, I won a pair of tickets on Friday to this Tuesday's performance. The only requirement for the tickets is that you tweet about the performance at least four times during the evening, which I shall readily do.

   The people responsible for this show's creation are Andrew Lippa (John and Jen), who composed the music, Michael Brickman and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), who wrote the book, Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) choreographed the production, and Phelim McDermott, who is also the director of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of The Enchanted Island, and Julian Crouch directed and designed the staging. This production opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 8, 2010, and the show continued there until its close on New Year's Eve of 2011 for a total of 725 performances. In its original incarnation it starred Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth, Jackie Hoffman, Kevin Chamberlain, Carolee Carmello, Krysta Rodriguez, Wesley Taylor, Adam Riegler, and Zachary James. A notable and surprising cast change that occurred later was that of Brooke Shields replacing Neuwirth, and Shields stayed with the production until its closure. The national tour began on September 25, 2010, and it has finally made its way into my city, and its next stop is Tulsa, Oklahoma.

   The musical based on the beloved characters from the stories by Charles Addams and the television series these spawned introduces an entirely maiden story to the collection in which Wednesday Addams, the family's daughter for those such as I who are unfamiliar with the background of the characters and their story, finds a boy, Lucas Beinike, she likes. However, a problem presents itself in the fact that this young man who has become the object of her affections is entirely normal. This "delightfully macabre" musical chronicles the journey of the family's adventures as they struggle to accept the thought of Wednesday's new beau and his and his family's being normal.

   This production opens tomorrow evening, and it plays until Sunday, January 22, 2012, at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City, which is located at 201 North Walker Avenue in Downtown Oklahoma City.

   Thank you for perusing my post, and I hope that the new year has remained kind and leisurely for all of you. May God pour His blessings upon you.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bass-Baritone Thomas Quasthoff Announces His Retirement from the Stage

   Much to the sorrow and surprise of many in the world of classical music, German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff released a press announcement through his representatives that he shall retire from public performance due to health reasons. He is fifty-two years of age, and these tidings came with an outpouring of sympathy and sentiment for the legendary performer from many renowned vocalists on the social media platform Twitter, and I expect that tomorrow will bring even greater coverage of the happening. I am not familiar with the ailments that plague this revered performer, but I am certain that he shall be sorely missed by his colleagues. He shall continue to teach at the Hans Eisler School of Music in Berlin, Germany, and he assures his audience that he shall explore another portion of life, the vast area of politics and current events. I recall a blog post from Joyce DiDonato in reference to this singer. Her particular post that I recall documented a day of rehearsal for a gala in honor of Marilyn Horne. Quasthoff was rehearsing with astute and serenely gifted accompanist Martin Katz at the piano, and Joyce was simply overwhelmed by the intimacy of his performance of Wie bist du, meine Konigin. Though the concert hall was bereft of the usual audience it accommodates, Joyce reports that Quasthoff sang with perfection, and it was so endearingly exquisite that it brought her to tears. Indeed, I can imagine that those tears of regret of which she spoke shall readily flow again once she hears of the news.

   Thomas Quasthoff is best known as one of the most skilled and erudite interpreters of Lieder. Though he has some reputation in the world of opera, he never sought to tax himself in this art form, and we possess few memories of his work on the stage; however, his operatic endeavors were held as triumphs, and he was respected all the more for those efforts. I am not as familiar with Quasthoff's contribution to the recorded legacy of German art song, which I must confess is a great travesty; moreover, I do not maintain any capacious knowledge upon the subject of lieder in general, but I do possess a disc of Quasthoff's that was released under Deutsche Grammophon in which he was accompanied by pianist Justus Zeyen. I am blessed to have it, and I shall have to hear it now to acquaint myself with the surreal elegance of his voice of which I have heard so much. He has won numerous awards and accolades during his career that has spanned almost forty years. including the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize, three Grammy Awards, and an Echo Klassik Award.

  From his press release that was manifested today, he had this to say.

   “After almost 40 years, I have decided to retire from concert life. My
health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art
and myself. I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness.
On the contrary, I am looking forward to the new challenges that will now enter my life. I
would like to thank all my fellow musicians and colleagues, with whom I stood together on
stage, all the organizers, and my audience for their loyalty.”

   This announcement and the happening it foretells reminds me of why I seek to capture every moment I may to make the most of its opportunity in life to help another person or to improve their life in any means that they shall allow. Furthermore, it also brings the painful truth to my attention that there are yet chances that I must miss to experience the best of life. As a prospective, hopeful opera singer, I currently witness the world of opera from without the confines of the professional or even amateur branches of the industry, and I hear and see singers with whom I should desire immensely to perform, with whom I wish to endeavor to recreate the sublime environment that certain performances manufacture. Nevertheless, as I grow older, these singers that arrest my attention and humble, sincere hope that I may be granted to perform with them in the future also gain in age, and this naturally precludes me from ever knowing any of them in a professional capacity. As much as I may wish to sing with Renee Fleming in an opera or upon the concert stage, the thought resides in the dim space of my mind that the possibility of this desire becoming an actual occurrence is truly minute. My spirit weeps that I can make no effort to preserve these dreams in myself or others without this logical conclusion's intrusion upon the hopes of those who possess such dreams.

   I pray that I find you in excellent spirits for the coming year, and I hope that God grants you every blessing. Thomas Quasthoff shall leave a tremendous void in the world of classical music, but I look to the next generation of followers in the art to make every attempt to fill it. I proffer my gratitude to all of you for continuing to read my musings.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Danielle de Niese Releases Beauty of the Baroque Today

For those of us who have been patiently waiting in expectation for a new release from soprano Danielle de Niese, our want is now finally relieved today, for her latest album, Beauty of the Baroque, is released today. I first consciously listened to this soprano in a video on YouTube in which she sang Handel's famous aria Lascia ch'io pianga, and I have faithfully listened to her since then at any time I am given the chance. Her voice is quite clear, which makes her a natural choice for the Baroque repertoire.While it is interesting to note that she has recorded a pleasant variety of music on her solo offerings, I am glad to see that she has returned to this period. Personally, I am enamored with Baroque music, which is the primary cause of my elation at this release, but we may also rejoice at the quality of collaboration that her two forays into this specialist's field of music have brought to our ears. To my enduring delight, her debut recital of works for recorded media featured the formidable and revered Les Arts Florissants under the direction of their distinguished and renowned founder, William Christie. In my opinion, which I shall admit is a trifle biased, such an early forging of relations between such a performer and and almost peerless ensemble is a definite indication of the sort of talent that de Niese possesses.

   In this new release, we are promised much of the same magic that exists in such a pairing as the one I have just described, for her new collaborators are Harry Bickett, the esteemed Handel specialist, and The English Concert. Judging from Bickett's recent triumph at the Metropolitan Opera, where he conducted Rodelinda with Renee Fleming, Iestyn Davies, and Andreas Scholl, this promises to be a sumptuous and elegant program. Indeed, the album itself seems to exude this latter quality in every aspect of its being, for one can see such a trait in the title of the release and the artwork that has been utilized. The music itself lends itself to this description, and we begin to notice a hint of regalia that has been imbued into the album. After having released a disc of Handel arias, de Niese does not shy from including that famed composer in this new recording, and we find her singing arias that exhibits her in a more mature light than we have previously noticed her because of the roles she presently sings. The track list is as follows.

John Dowland (1563–1626)
1. Come again, sweet love doth now invite [2:42]
2. What if I never speed? [2:31]
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
3. Aria “Ombra mai fu” (Serse) [2:54]
from Serse, Act I
Libretto: anon., after Niccolò Minato & Silvio Stampiglia
4. Air “Let the bright Seraphim” (Israelitish Woman) [5:34]
from Samson, Act III
Libretto: Newburgh Hamilton
Henry Purcell (1659–1695)
5. “Thy hand, Belinda – When I am laid in earth” (Dido) [5:07]
(Dido’s Lament)
from Dido and Aeneas, Act III
Libretto: Nahum Tate
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
6. Air “Heart, the seat of soft delight” (Galatea) [4:10]
from Acis and Galatea
Libretto: John Gay and others
Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)
7. Duet “Pur ti miro” (Poppea, Nerone)* [4:35]
from L’incoronazione di Poppea, Act III
Libretto: Giovanni Francesco Busenello
8. Quel sguardo sdegnosetto 3:01
from Scherzi musicali
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
9. Duet “Io t’abbraccio” (Rodelinda, Bertarido) [6:53]
from Rodelinda, Act II
Libretto: Nicola Francesco Haym
10. “Guardian angels” (Beauty) [5:59]
from The Triumph of Time and Truth, Act III
Libretto: Thomas Morell
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1736)
11. Duet “Stabat Mater dolorosa” [3:56]
from Stabat Mater
Libretto: attrib. to Jacopone da Todi
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
12. Aria “Sich üben im lieben” [4:38]
from the Cantata Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202
13. Aria “Schafe können sicher weiden” [4:46]
from the Cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208

   I am fairly certain that I know what I shall be purchasing with my available Amazon gift cards today. I neglected to previously mention that countertenor Andreas Scholl joins de Niese on three of the tracks on this disc, which is a welcome occurrence, and I maintain high hopes for this release. Depending upon what other recordings are released this year, this may well be one of my favorites. Danielle DeNiese is performing a concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City on January 23, 2012, to coincide with the debut of this album, and the event will be streamed live from (Le) Poisson Rouge's website.

   I express my immense ingratiation to all of you who continue to peruse my posts concerning opera, and I pray that all of you are extraordinarily blessed as the new year greets us with all of the possibilities and happenings that may occur. You are quite at liberty to post a comment on any of my posts, and you may also subscribe if you are so inclined.