Friday, June 24, 2016
The Sony Classical label has drawn ink from Juan Duego Florez. It can now boast, with Kaufmann, Grigolo and Florez, to have the three hot males on the opera stage. Press release follows press pic. (New York / Berlin, June 20, 2016) Sony Classical is proud to announce a long-term exclusive contract with Juan Diego Flórez, one of today’s most prominent stars of the opera and concert stage. The tenor of choice for the world’s leading theatres in the bel canto repertoire and beyond, Juan Diego Flórez’s fluid, expressive singing and dazzling virtuosity have thrilled audiences and critics alike and earned him global acclaim. The Financial Times recently noted: “For a voice of high class and high Cs by the armful, Flórez is your man.” Born in 1973 into a musical family in Lima, Peru, the young singer studied at the National Conservatory of Music and with Peru’s Coro Nacional before winning a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his deep love of opera was founded. Standing in for an indisposed colleague as Corradino in Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran in 1996 proved to be a turning point in what was to become a stellar career. After this triumph, Mr. Flórez was promptly offered his début at La Scala, Milan, under Riccardo Muti, and since then he has conquered all the world’s leading stages, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Salzburg Festival, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and the Zurich Opernhaus, to name but a few. He has worked with the best-known conductors of the day, including Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano and many more. In 2007 Juan Diego Flórez made history at La Scala when he broke a 70-year-old taboo and gave the first encore in the theatre since 1933. The aria in question was “Ah! mes amis” from Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment, renowned for its nine high Cs. He repeated the feat a few months later, in 2008, at the Met, again after a number of years in which no encores had been heard, and in 2012 at the Opéra de Paris, where no encore had been heard since the theatre’s inauguration in 1989. Juan Diego Flórez has an extensive discography for which he has been honored with countless international awards. He is passionate about music education and through his foundations Sinfonía por el Perú and Friends of Juan Diego Flórez works to bring about social change through music both in his native country and beyond. Mr. Flórez is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. His first album for Sony Classical will be released in fall 2017. Mr. Flórez noted of his new contract with Sony Classical: “Recordings are such a different means of expression for an opera singer. Musically, they allow you to explore and try new and exciting things, such as new colours and ways of interpretation. Working in the studio has fascinated me for a long time and I am full of new ideas I want to realize with Sony. I look forward to working with its team to bring great recordings to music lovers around the world.” Bogdan Roscic, President of Sony Classical, said: “Seeing and hearing Juan Diego Flórez in full flight is one of the greatest experiences in today’s opera world. His personality, his immense musicality and the unmistakably individual sound of his voice have made him one of the few true superstars in the theatre but also beyond it. I look forward to working with him on adding exciting new recordings to what is already an outstanding discography.”
The Orchestra della Toscana is one of the good regional Italian orchestras. They have come before. It is in fact a chamber orchestra, 51-strong on this tour, and the music they played sounds well with such forces, for it encompasses a short period of time between 1807 and 1816. True, the works chosen are all very well-known and a little more enterprise would have been welcomed, but the results made their audition worthwhile. In his early thirties, Daniele Rustioni has been named Principal Conductor of the orchestra. He was well trained by such artists as Gelmetti, Pappano, Noseda, C.Davis, Segerstam, Masur and Muti. He has conducted important orchestras not only in Italy but also in Switzerland, Russia and Great Britain, and has had extensive operatic activity already, at Milan´s La Scala, Covent Garden, Munich, Lyon and Berlin. Also, he married lissome, tall violinist Francesca Dego, who has recorded no less than the Paganini Caprices for Deutsche Grammophon and at 27 is having important activity in variegated places. She came along to BA to play Paganini´s famous First Concerto. As to the Orchestra, it was founded in Florence back in 1980 and has had numerous and prestigious conductors and soloists in abundant trips and recordings. The combination of a flexible, dynamic orchestra with two young talents has proved fruitful, some reservations apart. Rustioni is histrionic to a fault, a style with which I have no empathy, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and as colleagues told me (I agree) when you closed your eyes what you heard was coherent, orthodox and intense; and that´s what matters. The start was excellent, with a pointed, humoristic and limpid version of one of Rossini´s best Overtures, that of "L´Italiana in Algeri", with fine woodwind solos. Then, Paganini´s First Concerto, by far the most often played, allowed Dego to show off a virtuoso display of precision in very difficult writing, especially her admirable control of harmonics. She is quite impressive playing pyrotechnics (Paganini revolutionized the technical requirements) but not so convincing in long melodic phrases, where the timbric quality wasn´t as warm as the music demands. The Concerto´s First Movement has beautiful tunes but also a stop-and-go quality that was too emphasized by Rustioni. Her brilliant encores were Ysaÿe´s Third Sonata-Ballade (a strong, dramatic score of transcendental hurdles written in 1923) and a Presto Paganini Caprice. We are accustomed to hear Beethoven´s massive Fifth Symphony with big modern orchestras, and in an ample hall the extra weight tells. But in fact if 50 musicians play with concentration and drive the music is projected to the hearer with satisfying effect, and under the firm command of Rustioni we heard just that. The encore was more Rossini, the most famous of all his Overtures, that of "The Barber of Seville", and it came out sparkling, with a perfect control of the famous crescendo. The concert was on June 2, the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Italian Republic. And now is the time to refer to another celebration: the start of the final two years of the ample restoration of the Coliseo. Of course, such things as the intensely white floor of the foyer, the new design of the marquee, the ameliorated rest rooms, the refurbishing of the auditorium, the redesign of the foyer stairs, have been evident for some time. I do question that the orchestra seats are still too narrow. But many other aspects can´t be seen by the public, and an illuminating video was shown in a useful press conference. Thus we saw the impressive and very tall redesign of the stage box with a system of motorized and automated rods and a gridiron and bridges system weighing 65 Tons with three levels. There is also a motorized monorail with carts to mount stage designs or lighting positions. The lighting system has a new switchboard guaranteeing lighting levels in different planes of the stage and with dimmers. Also, the rehearsal rooms and the dressing rooms have been redesigned. In these next two years there will be new stage floor, acoustic chamber and complementary systems. And the system of security drop curtain will be modernised. All this has been or will be done during the Summer period, thus allowing the Coliseo to have normal activity during the rest of the year. It has been possible thanks to funding of 44 million pesos of the City Government through the Sponsorship (Mecenazgo) Law. Architect Alfio Sambatore designed the stage box, the rehearsal rooms and the dress rooms, and Architect Giuseppe Caruso, the marquee and foyers. The whole project was coordinated by Elisabetta Riva, Directress of the Theatre, with the full support of the Board of Directors of the Fundación Coliseum led by Cristiano Rattazzi. The Coliseo is part of the Palazzo Italia and is owned by the Italian Government (only case in the world of a theatre outside Italy). Although born as a circus in 1905, afterwards it became a lyric theatre and in 1920 Enrique Susini realized the first radio transmission of an opera in history ("Parsifal"). After a period of decay, it was bought by the Italian Government in 1940; the old building was torn down and the current one was built; inaugurated in 1961, it has been an important aspect of theatrical activity in our city. For Buenos Aires Herald
Fiorenza Cossotto as Azucena in the Covent Garden Opera Company revival of Il trovatore at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden © 1973 Royal Opera House Verdi forged a new operatic tradition when he made the lead character of Il trovatore a mezzo-soprano. In a letter to librettist Francesco Maria Piave , the composer described Azucena as the principal role, the one that (if he were a prima donna!) he would wish to sing. Verdi’s decision would have exciting consequences not only for his operas but for the art form as a whole. The term ‘mezzo-soprano’ was first used in the early 18th century to describe female voices placed between the increasingly high-lying soprano and the low, dark-hued contralto. For years it was rarely used. Handel’s lower female parts are mostly for contralto, while Mozart’s lead female roles were all written for soprano – even ones such as Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro ), now usually sung by mezzos. With the decline of castratos early in the 19th century, mezzos began to take on heroic young male roles, such as Romeo in Bellini ’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. A number of exceptional mezzos were also muses for bel canto composers – singers such as Isabella Colbran, who created the title role in Rossini ’s La donna del lago . But sopranos still dominated – it wasn’t until Verdi’s 17th opera that he put a mezzo in the spotlight. Azucena was worth the wait. The role presents exciting dramatic challenges, and also provides a chance to show off the characteristic wide range of the mezzo-soprano voice. Azucena’s first interpreter, Emilia Goggi , was a former soprano, and Verdi contrasts dramatic low-lying passages with thrilling forays into the high register, in a part that covers more than two octaves. Small wonder that Azucena remains a dream role for many singers. It was more than a decade until Verdi returned to the mezzo voice, but with Eboli (Don Carlo ) and Amneris (Aida ) he created two mezzo-soprano roles equal in stature to the operas’ soprano heroines. In both cases, Verdi uses the mezzo’s rich timbre and wide range to depict sensual and troubled young women. They are among his most fascinating characters, and both inspired Verdi to create wonderful music, such as Eboli’s flamboyant ‘Veil Song’ and ‘O don fatale’ and Amneris’s anguished Act IV soliloquy. Verdi was not the only composer to realize the mezzo-soprano’s potential. Berlioz wrote most of his lead roles for this voice type, as he preferred its rich timbre to the brighter soprano. Bizet and Massenet put the mezzo’s dark, warm timbre to varied uses, with the sensual gypsy Carmen and the motherly Charlotte in Werther . In Russia, mezzo-sopranos often played sensual, energetic female characters, who contrasted with innocent soprano heroines, as with Lyubasha and Marfa in The Tsar’s Bride . By the 20th century, the growing bank of mezzo roles had produced more star mezzo singers. These singers not only inspired the composers of their day to create new roles, but also began to take on roles originally created for sopranos that demanded both strong low and middle registers and powerful high notes. Parts such as Kundry in Wagner ’s Parsifal and Octavian in Strauss ’s Der Rosenkavalier , though first sung by sopranos, are now mezzo territory. Meanwhile, singers such as Janet Baker had many new roles created for them, most notably by Britten and Walton . Today the mezzo-soprano continues to be in the ascendant, with the heroines of Heggie ’s Dead Man Walking , Maw ’s Sophie’s Choice , Adès ’s The Tempest (Miranda) and Birtwistle ’s The Minotaur (Ariadne) all written for this vocal type. As Verdi realized back in the 1850s, if you’re looking to create a sensual and emotionally complex female character, the wide range and warm tones of the mezzo-soprano voice are irresistible. Werther runs 19 June–13 July 2016. Tickets are still available. The production will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 27 June 2016. Find your nearest cinema . The production is generously sponsored by BB Energy and is given with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, The Taylor Family Foundation, Susan and John Singer, Spindrift Al Swaidi and the Maestro’s Circle Il trovatore runs 2–17 July 2016. Tickets are still available. The production will be broadcast live to outdoor screens around the UK for free on 14 July 2016. Find a screening near you . The production is a co-production with Frankfurt Opera and is given with generous philanthropic support from the Royal Opera House Endowment Fund
Garsington has just announced its 2017 season – four new production, plus a world premiere. That’s a tremendous effort for a self-supporting enterprise, surviving without public subsidy. Details: 1 June – 30 July The 2017 season will be the first time we stage four opera productions as well as the newly commissioned Silver Birch – more details outlined below. We also welcome the Philharmonia Orchestra who will join us for one opera production each year, and in 2017 this will be Pelléas et Mélisande. SEMELE George Frideric Handel Conductor Jonathan Cohen Director Annilese Miskimmon Designer Nicky Shaw The god Jupiter is captivated by Semele’s intoxicating beauty in a dramatic love story of the divine and the mortal. It cannot last, and Semele suffers the consequences. We welcome back Annilese Miskimmon, Artistic Director of Norwegian National Opera, with Jonathan Cohen making his Garsington Opera conducting debut. 1, 3, 9, 15, 24, 30 June & 4 July LE NOZZE DI FIGARO Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Conductor Douglas Boyd Director John Cox Designer Robert Perdziola It is the wedding day of Figaro and Susanna, servants of the Almaviva estate, but as events and the Count’s roving eye conspire to disrupt their marriage, all relationships are tested. A recreation of John Cox’s critically acclaimed 2005 Garsington production, Mozart’s sublime masterpiece is conducted by Artistic Director, Douglas Boyd. 2, 4, 8, 10, 17 June & 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 16 July PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE Claude Debussy Conductor Jac van Steen Director Michael Boyd Designer Tom Piper Prince Golaud finds a mysterious young woman in the forest and delights in making her his wife. A dangerous love triangle emerges as she grows perilously close to his brother, Pelléas. Michael Boyd and Tom Piper (Eugene Onegin, 2016) return with Jac van Steen (Intermezzo, 2015) conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra in their Garsington debut; together they explore Debussy’s dreamworld of shadows and secrets. 16, 18, 22, 25, 27 Jne & 1, 7 July IL TURCO IN ITALIA Gioachino Rossini Conductor David Parry Director Martin Duncan Designer Francis O’Connor Prosdocimo, a toiling poet, finds his muse in the flirtatious Fiorilla and her husband, Geronio. When a dashing Turkish stranger arrives, a comedy of unrequted love and confused identity ensues. Rossini’s deliciously layered plot sees games go wrong and lessons learned. Martin Duncan’s joyous 2011 production is conducted by Rossini aficionado David Parry. 26, 29 June & 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15 July SILVER BIRCH Roxanna Panufnik Conductor Douglas Boyd Director Karen Gillingham Garsington Opera’s Learning & Participation Programme presents Silver Birch: a new commission by composer Roxanna Panufnik and librettist Jessica Duchen, uniting professional artists with 170 members of the local community. Through music, dance and Siegfried Sassoon’s poetry people of all ages explore the extraordinary power of love in the devastating context of war. 28, 29, 30 July
Garsington Opera at Wormsley The Turkish mezzo thrills as the heroine striving to avoid entrapment in a harem, while director Will Tuckett sprinkles movie glamour on Rossini’s farce“Whether gentle or rough, men are all the same,” we’re told in L’Italiana in Algeri, Rossini’s culture-clash comedy of sexual mores, given a new production by Garsington Opera, directed by Will Tuckett and conducted by David Parry. Rossini was only 21 when he wrote it. It was one of the works that put him on the map at its 1813 Venice premiere, and it’s easy to understand why. The score is often breathtaking, and the first act finale, with its flawless criss-crossing counterpoint, is one of the great moments in opera.Yet the work also has its tricky side. Rossini celebrates Italian girl power in his heroine, the gloriously unflappable Isabella, who arrives in Ottoman Algiers, with her admirer Taddeo in tow, to look for her lover Lindoro, who has been captured by the bey, Mustafà. Bored with his wife Elvira, the bey soon wants to install Isabella in his harem, but rapidly comes to realise he has bitten off more than he can chew. As Tuckett and Parry point out, there’s a danger of the opera becoming becoming racist when Mustafà is traditionally played as “some terrible blustering old idiot who’s not even remotely attractive”. Continue reading...
Italy has three main symphony orchestras. Two have come to BA in earlier seasons: Milan´s La Scala with Gavazzeni and later with Muti, and that of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with Maazel. And now, to complete the trilogy, the Mozarteum Argentino brought us from Rome the Orchestra dell´Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Sir Antonio Pappano and with Beatrice Rana (piano). All made their local debuts. The three are of high quality and can compete internationally. La Scala´s has a special regime: during Autumn it is a concert orchestra, but come Winter they go to the pit for the operatic season. That of the MMF of course is the basis for the homonymous yearly Festival in which such great names as Bartoletti and Mehta have presented interesting opera programmes, but they also offer many concerts during the year and they are the pit orchestra for the Teatro Comunale´s opera season. The Santa Cecilia, instead, is a concert orchestra with weekly activity from October to June at the magnificent new Parco della Musica. Each concert is given three times. However, it has recently recorded "Aida" with a starry cast (Kaufmann/Harteros/Schrott) and "Madama Butterfly" with Gheorghiu. The Accademia also supports a Chorus, and so the choral-symphonic repertoire often appears during the season. It is the oldest Italian organism dedicated almost exclusively to concert music. It was founded in 1908 as Orchestra dell´Augusteo di Roma. Bernardino Molinari had a long tenure as Principal Conductor from 1912 to 1944. Later the Orchestra was called Santa Cecilia (she is the patroness of music) and had eminent Principal conductors: Fernando Previtali (1953-73), Igor Markevich (1973-5), Giuseppe Sinopoli (1983-7), Daniele Gatti (1992-7), Myung-Whun Chung (1997-2005) and now Pappano. To their appellation they later added Nazionale (I would have thought more adequate to add "di Roma"). The Academy was established by papal bull as "Congregazione" in 1585, and became Academy in the Nineteenth Century. Nowadays it also has a Conservatory, what they call a "Bibliomediateca" and a Museum of musical instruments. Vinyl lovers will recall that the orchestra, though a concert outfit, was employed in dozens of famous operatic recordings in the 1950s and 1960s. Anyway, I can vouchsafe that in concert the Santa Cecilia was first-rate even in the Fifties, when I heard in Rome a wonderful evening with Previtali and the greatest pianist in my experience, Wilhelm Backhaus, who played both Beethoven´s Concerto Nº4 and Brahms´ First in the same evening! (February 6, 1954). And now to Sir Antonio Pappano (why Antonio and not Anthony? He´s British!). Born 56 years ago, he studied in the United States, he was Musical Director of the Norwegian Opera at Oslo and at Brussels´ Théâtre de la Monnaie prior to taking over the main post at London´s Covent Garden in 2002. So he divides his time between opera and concerts. The programmes he brought over for the Mozarteum´s two cycles played safe, too safe. On the tour came Beatrice Rana, a 23-year-old Italian pianist who recorded Tchaikovsky´s First Concerto and Prokofiev´s Second with Pappano and the Santa Cecilia. If she had played Prokofiev on Tuesday 12 and Tchaikovsky on Wednesday 13, it would have been much better, but no, it was Tchaikovsky both days. Or if the Russian composer´s Fifth Symphony on the 12th would have been replaced by a symphony of, say, Shostakovich, there would have been a good balance. But no, we had both Tchaikovskys together on the first night, and one hopes to hear something more varied from a visiting orchestra, especially if it´s their first time here. But apart from that caveat, everything went swimmingly. The conductor was right in starting both evenings with Verdi: the Overture to "La Forza del destino" and the following day, the Sinfonia (another name for overture) to "Luisa Miller". The phrasing was unfailing, showing Pappano´s knack for dramatic music, and the Orchestra sounded admirable (as listed in the hand programme it is huge, 117 players, but surely fewer came). Rana is a find: a fantastic and effortless technique that combines a big sound without harshness and impeccable digitation at all speeds. Just one reservation: in the first movement she slowed down too much in certain passages, though generally she dazzled in the virtuosic passages. The accompaniment was very professional. Her encore on Wednesday was beautiful: a Schumann song from "Frauenliebe und Leben" as arranged admirably by Liszt. But on Tuesday her Gigue from Bach´s First Partita sounded like a perfectly executed cross-hands etude rather than a dance. The symphonies showed both Pappano´s mettle and the orchestra´s quality; except for some horn fluffs the playing was very firm, with attractive solos from the woodwinds and the strings and a warm, in tune, brilliant overall sound. The conductor was orthodox and gave sure readings of both the Tchaikovsky Fifth and that strange and fascinating symphony, Saint-Saëns´ Nº3. The final minutes of the latter were thrilling; organist Daniele Rossi played on the Colón electric organ placed on the avant-scène loge and it sounded good, though never replacing a true pipe organ (impossible at the Colón). Encores: on Tuesday, "Nimrod" from Elgar´s Enigma Variations, and the last part of Rossini´s "Guillaume Tell". On Wednesday, a marvelous interpretation of Puccini´s Intermezzo from "Manon Lescaut" and a romping close with the galop-like ending to Ponchielli´s "Dance of the Hours" from "La Gioconda". For Buenos Aires Herald
Great composers of classical music