Opera News Goes Global This May, with Features on Sydney, Dresden, Hanoi, Cape Town, and Cairo

The international opera scene comes under the spotlight in the May issue of Opera News. The renovations planned for Sydney’s iconic Opera House are the subject of this month’s cover story, while additional features address the rebirth of opera in Cape Town and explore the opera houses of Dresden, Hanoi, and Cairo. The May issue profiles three international artists: Canadian mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier, and bass Hao Jiang Tian and bass-baritone Shenyang, both recent Chinese émigrés. Also included is the Opera News annual guide to the best international music festivals of the coming summer.

The Sydney Opera House has become one of Australia’s most beloved and recognizable landmarks. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, who, in 2003, received the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor. The citation stated:

“There is no doubt that the Sydney Opera House is his masterpiece. It is one of the great iconic buildings of the 20th century, an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world – a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.” As the landmark structure looks forward to some timely renovations, Raul Barreneche – former executive editor of Architecture magazine and founding editor of the design quarterly House – revisits some of the controversy that accompanied the performing arts center’s design and construction and looks at the changes underway now, in “Retouching an Icon”.

In Europe meanwhile, 65 years after Allied firebombing destroyed the Dresden skyline, the Semper Opera – a prime example of “Dresden-Baroque” – is poised to recapture some of its old artistic glory. In “A House Divided”, Strauss biographer Dr. Bryan Gilliam examines the past, present, and future of this Saxon jewel. Europe’s influence can also be felt as far away as the Hanoi Opera House, which is a small-scale replica of the Palais Garnier, the older of Paris’s two opera houses. Yet the elegant colonial structure has little in common with the teeming, fast-paced Vietnamese city that surrounds it, as regular contributor Jennifer Melick discovers, in “Reclaiming Identity”. By contrast, the inspiration for Cairo’s opera house is less old-world than new, since it is part of the city’s National Cultural Center complex, which has ambitions to be the Lincoln Center of Egypt. In “The Nile Scene”, Nana Asfour, who is on the editorial staff of the New Yorker and writes frequently about Middle Eastern culture, visits Cairo to explore music in Africa’s largest city. Moving further south, in “Worlds Apart” John Allison traces the progress of opera – and political freedom – in his native Cape Town, where Cape Town Opera is still only eleven years old. Allison is both a Unicef correspondent and the editor of Opera magazine.

Final Metropolitan Opera Guild events of the 2009-10 season

Saturday, May 1 at 11am – 12:15pm
Presented by Joseph Colaneri
Some of opera’s most prominent commentators count down their top five musical moments. Was it opening night at the new Met in 1966? Unforgettable debuts? Breathtaking productions? Hear what caught the attention of these astute opera-goers and has kept them glued to their seats and enchanted with the art form for years.

Price: $16; $20 at door

Sunday, May 2 at 4:00-5:15pm
DOWN AND DIRTY WITH DONIZETTI (originally given on April 20)
Presented by Martin Bernheimer
Gaetano Donizetti composed a vast volume of works in his prolific lifetime, including such favorites as Lucia di Lammermoor, L’Elisir d’Amore, and La Fille du Régiment. Martin Bernheimer shows that there is more to Donizetti than glorious melody and opportunities for high-flying vocalism.

Price: $16; $20 at door

Monday, May 3 at 6pm – 7:15pm
In Studio: Aprile Millo
Presented by Paul Gruber
The New York Times has called Aprile Millo “the last of the Golden Age sopranos.” She speaks with the Guild’s Paul Gruber about her extensive career and her current activities.

Price: $20; $25 at door

Tuesday, May 4 at 6pm – 7:15pm
Showcasing the Style
Presented by Jane Marsh
The bel canto repertoire requires something akin to vocal tap dance and ballet. Singers must be flexible, light, and lithe, while hitting each note with exacting precision. Jane Marsh leads this master class on bel canto style.

Price: $16; $20 at door

Thursday, May 6 at 2pm – 3:15pm
Presented by Fred Plotkin
The last operatic works of great composers are inherently fascinating: what were these towering artists trying to achieve and to communicate in their final statements? When Giacomo Puccini passed away, he left only sketches of how his final work, Turandot, should conclude. Although we may never know the full extent of the composer’s vision, we hear his voice and his passion in this piece as in no other.

Price: $16; $20 at door

Saturday May 8 at 11:00am-12:15pm
LAST WRITES: FINAL WORKS OF GREAT COMPOSERS (originally given on April 22)
Presented by Fred Plotkin
The last operatic works of great composers are inherently fascinating: what were these towering artists trying to achieve and to communicate in their final statements? Throughout his career, Giuseppe Verdi drew great inspiration from the works of William Shakespeare. His two final masterpieces, Otello and Falstaff, are not simply among Verdi’s greatest works but are also two of the finest adaptations of Shakespeare in the operatic canon.

Price: $16; $20 at door

Sunday, May 9 at 4pm – 6pm
Presented by Steven Blier
Art songs have deep roots and flourished in 19th-century musical salons. To work effectively in a recital, each song must express a fully developed emotional narrative arc. Eminent vocal coach and accompanist Steven Blier coaches young singers in crafting the art of song.

Price: $20; $25 at door

Saturday May 15 at 11:00am -12:15pm
Presented by Fred Plotkin. (First given on May 6)
as above

Tickets $16 in advance, $20 at door

All events will be held in the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Opera Learning Center on the 6th floor of the Samuel B. & David Rose building at Lincoln Center, unless otherwise noted.


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