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Gioacchino Rossini

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

January 17

Berlin mezzo dies, at 69

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discA member of the Berlin State Opera from 1987 until illness enforced her retirement in 2009, Rosemarie Lang was a regular performer in a highly competitive ensemble. He roles included Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito by Mozart, Romeo in I Capuleti od I Montecchi by Bellini, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini, Octavian in Rosenkavalier and Clairon in Capriccio. Kurt Masur selected her for several recordings. Rosemarie died on January 12, aged 69.

Royal Opera House

January 11

Girls being boys being girls: a short history of opera’s trouser roles

Matthew Rose as Baron Ochs and Alice Coote as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, The Royal Opera © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore The trouser (or breeches) role – a young male character sung by a woman – has been part of opera since its early days. And the role type has flourished since, in a variety of contexts. In the 18th century, the bulk of heroic male roles were written for soprano or alto castratos – but the trouser role was never just a ‘castrato substitute’: Handel ’s Radamisto and his heroic adolescent Sesto in Giulio Cesare are the most famous examples. Towards the end of the century, Mozart became probably the first composer to recognize the trouser role’s erotic potential, with Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro . His adolescent passion for Countess Almaviva is made all the more risqué by the fact that the lovesick page is sung by a woman, and Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte have additional fun when Cherubino dresses up as a serving maid. As castratos became a dying breed in the early 19th century, mezzo-sopranos increasingly took on Italian opera’s heroic lead male roles. Rossini wrote several principal breeches roles, including the title role of Tancredi and the soldier Arsace in Semiramide . Donizetti also created a few, although he tended to demote his trouser roles from heroes to sidekicks – as with Maffeo Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia , or Smeton in Anna Bolena . The tradition reached its culmination in 1830 with Bellini ’s Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi ; the virtuoso writing for mezzo-soprano perfectly expresses the hero’s youthful ardour and impetuosity. Over in France, 19th-century grand and comic opera alike saw an explosion of trouser roles: chiefly pages and lovesick adolescents. Although they were rarely in the first rank of dramatic importance, they were usually given beautiful arias, such as Ascanio’s ‘Mais qu’ai-je donc?’ in Berlioz ’s Benvenuto Cellini or Siébel’s ‘Faites-lui mes aveux’ in Gounod ’s Faust . The page-boy became such a popular character type that composers even added them to scenarios, as with the invented Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette , with his lovely aria ‘Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle?’. In French comic opera, a girl could even play the hero on occasion, as with the title role of Massenet ’s Chérubin , or Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon (a nod to pantomime’s Principal Boy tradition ). In 19th-century German opera, trouser roles were usually limited to children and supernatural beings, such as Puck in Weber ’s Oberon . Two notable exceptions were the young warrior Adriano in Wagner ’s Rienzi , a virtuoso role modelled on Bellini’s Romeo, and the flamboyant Prince Orlofsky in Johann Strauss ’s Die Fledermaus . But the the trouser role really came into his own in Germany from 1890 to 1930, with a number of feisty boy characters including Humperdinck ’s Hänsel and the Schoolboy in Berg ’s Lulu . Meanwhile in the former Czechoslovakia Janáček created one of the most poignant breeches roles in his 1930 opera From the House of the Dead: the boy prisoner Aljeja, described by the composer as ‘such a tender, dear person’. But before this, in 1911, came Octavian in Richard Strauss ’s Der Rosenkavalier , perhaps the greatest trouser role of all. With this young nobleman, in love with an older woman, Strauss fully exploits the breeches role’s capacity to convey youth through the high female voice, and also its slightly risqué sensuality, particularly in the opening scene with Octavian and the Marschallin in bed. He playfully draws attention to the trouser role’s inherent artificiality by having Octavian dress up as a girl. And he provides one of the most satisfying portrayals of late-adolescent love through Octavian’s stunning duets with the Marschallin and Sophie, and the sublime trio for all three characters in Act III. Small wonder that in his next opera Strauss insisted on writing the ardent male Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos for mezzo-soprano. His breeches roles are a crowning glory of a distinguished tradition. Der Rosenkavalier runs until 24 January 2017. Tickets are still available. The production is a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York , Teatro Regio, Turin , and Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires , and is given with generous philanthropic support from the Monument Trust, Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Susan and John Singer, the Friends of Covent Garden and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund .




Tribuna musical

January 9

Buenos Aires Lírica and Juventus Lyrica announce their seasons

The two principal private opera seasons have announced their programmes for 2017. Buenos Aires Lírica (BAL) innovates: only two titles will be presented at their tradiitional venue, the Avenida; two will be at the Teatro Picadero, and one will be done jointly with Nuova Harmonia at the Coliseo (coproduced with the Teatro Regional de Rancagua, Chile). Juventus Lyrica will stick to the Avenida and will stage just three operas. At the Coliseo: Monteverdi´s "L´incoronazione di Poppea" (produced by Marcelo Lombardero). April 22 and 23. At the Avenida: not an opera but incidental music to plays: Beethoven´s "Egmont" and Mendelssohn´s "A Midsummer Night´s Dream". June 4, 8 and 10. Picadero: Rossini´s "La scala di seta". Mondays: June 12, 19 and 26; July 3, 10 and 17. Avenida: Puccini´s "La Bohème", coproduction with Rosario´s El Círculo. August 11, 13, 17 and 19. Picadero: Offenbach, Ba-Ta-Clan. Mondays: October 16, 23 and 30; November 6, 13 and 20. Juventus Lyrica (JL). Bellini´s "Norma". May 12, 14, 18 and 20. Conductor (C): Hernán Sánchez Arteaga. Producer: Florencia Sanguinetti. Puccini´s "Turandot". September 1, 3, 7 and 9. C: Antonio María Russo. P: Ana D´Anna. Rossini´s "Le Comte Ory". November 3, 5, 9 and 11. C: Hernán Schvartzman. P: María Jaunarena. Comments on BAL: two coproductions; Picadero on Mondays; inclusion of an operetta. Applied to both BAL and JL: Puccini´s orchestra has to be strongly reduced due to the Avenida´s small pit. Suggestion: if BAL and JL can work with the Coliseo, in the future they should take advantage of that theatre´s big pit. For Buenos Aires Herald

Classical iconoclast

January 2

New Year Gala Teatro la Fenice livestream

New Year Gala 2017 at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, gloriously glamorous !  Highlights of grand Italian opera - Donizetti, Verdi, Rossini and more with Fabio Luisi conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice, and soloists Rosa Féola and John Osborn   Opera is what these musicians do all the time, year round,  so when they party, they do so with spectacular flair.   Even the details are perfect - watch how the chorus moves in perfect synch : they're clearly not an ordinary choir, they're used to moving together on stage. And rarely will you see choir members so immaculately turned out - each one has been dressed and styled at some time by professionals.  Luisi is clearly in his element surrounded by musicians who think and feel as he does.  A performance to enjoy on repeat, it's that good. Watch HERE on arte.,tv. Also enjoy the short video New Year Galas at La Fenice are a grand tradition, and have been broadcast for many years, but access in the past has been relatively restricted, so it's good that this one reaches a bigger audience.  Does the future of classical music lie in musician-generated broadcast?  Digital technology could change the economics of the business, making it less dependent on third parties like record companies, cinema networks etc. Once, only the wealthiest companies, like the Met and the Berliner Philharmoniker, could take the risk,but re-thinking the model could make it feasible for others to reach a a much larger potential market.  The LSO and LPO are streaming some concerts, as are several other orchestras and venues in Europe.  One of the ironies of the internet is that it doesn't bring the world closer because it's dominated by the English language, and thus over-emphasizes English language perspectives. Wiki for example, is skewed towards a very narrow range of sources.  Will audiences benefit from greater access to the world? Or will choice scare some back to caves of comfort  Think of the stock market terms "Bulls" and "Bears". 



Classical iconoclast

January 1

Dresden vs Vienna : New Year concert Thielemann

New Year concerts in Dresden, Vienna, Berlin, Venice, Leipzig and much else - it takes planning to catch them all.  The Silvesterkonzert from Staatskapelle Dresden with Christian Thielemann capped them all: genuinely satisfying as a musical experience as opposed to a fun way to fill time.  Bruch's Violin Concerto no 1 with Nikolaj Znaider, putting his soul into what he was doing.  Intense, serious musicianship, without compromise, complemented by the orchestra, who were magnificent.  At the end of an old year we are looking back as well as looking ahead, and 2016 was particularly traumatic not at all something from which to draw comfort. Znaider's playing was pointedly unflashy and unfrivolous, the understated poise in his playing emphasizing the poignant sadness often missed in less focussed performances.  Znaider made the violin sound exquisitely pure, like the newborn year emerging into an uncertain future: really quite frightening.  When the orchestra joined behind him, their richness intensified the impact: the babe is not alone. I particularly like the way the reflective Bruch concerto should flow almost without a break from the punchy confidence of the overture to Emil Freiherr von Reznicek's Donna Diana (1894), an opera now largely forgotten except for its introduction.  Spooky, especially considering the context. Yet Thielemann didn't linger. From refined beginnings, the overture to Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet grew purposefully, the warmth in the orchestral timbre evoking passion, rising like sap in the hearts of two young lovers.  But things won't work out well. Dizzying, rushing figures, ferocious angular outbursts: against which the love theme soared, defying violence.  Thielemann shaped the conclusion so it felt particularly tragic, as poignant as Znaider's Bruch. The powerful last chords were an affirmation that there's something magnificent in human endeavour, against all odds. For a moment, a quick sugar fix, Fritz Kreisler's Schön Rosmarin with Znaider as soloist. But was this escapism  Or a sly dig at Vienna? For this miniature comes from the three Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen.  Are we to think of the New Year's Concert in Vienna, now so commercialized that it's not primarily music?  A friend observed "Dudamel conducted from memory!", not that it takes much to conduct consumer product.  I listened dutifully until I broke down and rushed back to Dresden. There may, however, be even deeper implications than the purely musical.  Thielemann and the Dresdners followed Kreisler with the Overture to Rossini's Guillaume Tell. Wonderfully rousing. But it's rousing because Tell is fighting a war of resistance against Austrian hegemony.  Read into that what you will.  My sympathies are with Tell's integrity and independent spirit. Perhaps to make the point further, the encores were Manuel Ponce's Estrellita with Znaider, a nostalgic little charmer, and Franz von Suppé's Leichte Kavallerie  often associated with Vienna - light cavalry, as opposed to Big Guns.   Listen to the broadcast HERE on medici tv. 

Gioacchino Rossini
(1792 – 1868)

Gioachino Rossini (February 29, 1792 - November 13, 1868) was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces. His best-known operas include the Italian comedies Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and La cenerentola and the French-language epics Moïse et Pharaon and Guillaume Tell (William Tell). A tendency for inspired, song-like melodies is evident throughout his scores, which led to the nickname "The Italian Mozart." Until his retirement in 1829, Rossini had been the most popular opera composer in history.



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