. Interchanging Idioms: February 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Congrats to the Grammy Winners!

Best Classical Album
Verdi: Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor; Duain Wolfe, chorus master; Christopher Alder,producer; David Frost, Tom Lazarus & Christopher Willis, engineers/mixers; Silas Brown, mastering engineer (Ildar Abdrazakov, Olga Borodina, Barbara Frittoli & Mario Zeffiri; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Chicago Symphony Chorus)

Best Instrumental Composition
The Path Among The Trees
Billy Childs, composer (Billy Childs Ensemble)Track from: Autumn: In Moving Pictures Jazz - Chamber Music Vol. 2

Best Orchestral Performance
Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor (Terrence Wilson; Nashville Symphony)

Best Opera Recording
Saariaho: L'Amour De Loin
Kent Nagano, conductor; Daniel Belcher, Ekaterina Lekhina & Marie-Ange Todorovitch; Martin Sauer, producer (Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; Rundfunkchor Berlin)

Best Choral PerformanceM
Verdi: Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor; Duain Wolfe, chorus master (Ildar Abdrazakov, Olga Borodina, Barbara Frittoli & Mario Zeffiri; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Chicago Symphony Chorus)

Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)
Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 23 & 24
Mitsuko Uchida (The Cleveland Orchestra)

Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra)
Messiaen: Livre Du Saint-Sacrement
Paul Jacobs

Best Chamber Music Performance
Ligeti: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2
Parker Quartet

Best Small Ensemble Performance
Dinastia Borja
Jordi Savall, conductor; Hespèrion XXI & La Capella Reial De Catalunya (Pascal Bertin, Daniele Carnovich, Lior Elmalich, Montserrat Figueras, Driss El Maloumi, Marc Mauillon, Lluís Vilamajó & Furio Zanasi; Pascal Bertin, Daniele Carnovich, Josep Piera & Francisco Rojas)

Best Classical Vocal Performance
Sacrificium
Cecilia Bartoli (Giovanni Antonini; Il Giardino Armonico)

Best Classical Contemporary Composition
Daugherty, Michael: Deus Ex Machina
Michael Daugherty (Giancarlo Guerrero) Track from: Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony

Best Classical Crossover Album
Tin, Christopher: Calling All Dawns
Lucas Richman, conductor (Sussan Deyhim, Lia, Kaori Omura, Dulce Pontes, Jia Ruhan, Aoi Tada & Frederica von Stade; Anonymous 4 & Soweto Gospel Choir; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poor, Pale Rusalka Beautiful Beyond Words (and music)

Opera Colorado Performed Dvořák's Rusalka Last Night at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver

Additional Performances:
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Friday, February 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Opera Colorado took the plunge and gave the Colorado Premiere of a rarely-performed opera by Antonín Dvorák. The music was stunning, but visually Wendall K. Harrington (Projection Designer), Erhard Rom (Set Designer) and Robert Wierzel (Lighting Designer) made the production breath-taking, more than just transporting us to the dark underworld of the water spirits, creating a world of passion and torture for characters and audience alike. The designers captured the sense of music visually, perfectly. For a story that mirrors Little Mermaid but with dark overtones, Rusalka paints the interaction between humans and the fairy world with Cimmerian color --images and music I'm not soon to forget.

Stefan Szkafariwsky plays the sometime humorous but devoted father of Rusalka, Vodnik. He is a water-gnome and as playful with the wood nymphs as a faun. Stefan's sonorous, strong bass voice carried through the hall translating both sides of his personality. When frolicking in the woods, there was laughter in his voice. Later, as he laments over the anguish of Rusalka, he transmits the tender love of a father for his daughter, feeling all her pain and the anxiety of his impotent position to help her.

Kelly Kaduce is stunning as Rusalka. Not only is this a difficult role sung in Czech, but for a large portion of Act II she is relegated to silence, an odd position for the lead in an opera. Kelly sets the tone of her character with her aria "Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém" (Song to the Moon) in the first act. Beautiful, haunting, longing and eventually tortured comprises the role of Rusalka. Kelly captures each of these elements creating a rich, complex character we suffer with. Much like her father Vodnik, we feel helpless for her situation only able to watch her struggle from the shadows. In the second act, Kelly translates Rusalka's frustration with not being able to speak and the desperation in not being quite as human as she'd hoped, still somehow attached to the cold underworld. Then, when she sees her father again and is finally able to sing her emotions have peaked to the point of bursting, unable to remain silent any more, she sings "Vidis je, vidis? Jsou tu zas" (See them, see? They are here again) tortured by her half-human state, unable to feel true human passion. The irony of the music is that this is one of the most passionate moments in the opera. I could go on, but suffice it to say, Kelly Kaduce may be part fairy-folk, for she captured the conflict in Rusalka beautifully.

Catherine Cook played the role of the witch, Ježibaba. At times we feel as if she is on Rusalka's side, willing to help and honestly interested in Rusalka's plight. While at other times her sinister nature and dark underworld existence shines through. Catherine transmits both of these elements to her character with stunning clarity. Even when she is singing words of hope, there is an undertone to her voice that alludes to the depth of character.

Alexander Polianichko conducted the Colorado Symphony musicians with precision. The orchestra never got in the way of the action or voices on stage, and yet took prominence when it needed to set the scene or accentuate the emotions unsung.

Other highlights were a brief solo by Adam Ulrich as a Hunter. This was his Opera Colorado Debut and I hope to see/hear more from his rich Baritone voice. The three wood sprites, Nicolle Foland, Anna Noggle and Megan Marino were a delightful trio opening with flirtations with Vodnik and recapturing their playful nature with "Mám, zlaté vlásky Mám" (I have golden hair). Their voices are ideally matched to create the playful nature of the sprites, luring us under their spell.

As beautiful as the production is, there are moments where the directorial choices of Eric Simonson don't seem to match the splendor of the rest of the production. Most notably in Act II, there is scene with dancers. Toward the end of the scene Vodnik sings of his torture, while the dancers are acting drunk stealing focus from the passion in the scene. Ok, perhaps Eric wants to show the debautchery of humanity, but he detracted from the performance of the bass Stefan Szkafariwsky. The Prince, played by Avgust Amonov, and the Foreign Princess, played by Dana Beth Miller, are supposed to be having a playful flirtation, but the scene is directed as if the Prince is a tortured idiot and the Princess is a raging B****. Add to this the wood sprite song is "I have golden hair" and only one sprite has anything even close to blonde. Vodnik comes in later to comment on these "golden haired nymphs" and as an audience we're wondering if Vodnik has lost his eye sight or if Eric simply didn't bother reading the libretto. Some of the costumes by Karin Kopischke also seemed to miss the point. Again in Act II, the Foreign Princess is dressed in a stark white dress while Rusalka is dressed in a sultry red shift and later a matching red dress. The Foreign Princess is supposed to be passionate and Rusalka is suppose to be cold, but they appeared completely opposite. Perhaps that's what she was going for; it just didn't fit with the rest of the production.

It's difficult to talk about some of the failing of this production in what is otherwise a beautiful opera, passionately performed and visually unforgettable. Opera Colorado has a good production. It is great to see them taking chances on lesser known operas, exposing Colorado to the broader world of opera and (for the most part) doing it extremely well. The performance is worth seeing and there are only three left.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vadim Repin Releases All-New Recording of Sonatas on Deutsche Grammophon

Russian violinist Vadim Repin teams up with pianist Nikolai Lugansky for their first studio recording together. Having collaborated for a number of years, they decided to program their first recording together just as one would encounter them in the concert hall. The three contrasting sonatas by Janáček, Grieg and Franck give the artists opportunities to explore a myriad of colors and array of emotions throughout the program. Deutsche Grammophon will release the album on February 1, 2011.

Repin and Lugansky, though frequent collaborators on stage, had never recorded together until this recital. During an unusually hot period of time in July 2010, the two artists worked with ferocious intensity to record these three sonatas. According to Repin: “Recording is a very tough thing. It’s great when the CD is finished, but the sessions are very hard work because you have to be at your best for every take, and at the end of the day you feel completely wrung out by emotional exhaustion. In a concert you have something you can never have in a studio: a live public. But in a recording you have something you can never have in a concert: a choice.”

Susan Graham Returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Iphigénie, in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride

“Susan Graham, one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of our time,…is in her absolute prime.”– Denver Post (July 2010)

On February 12, the Grammy Award-winning mezzo Susan Graham returns to the Metropolitan Opera to sing the “role she was born to sing”, starring opposite Plácido Domingo in the title role of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride. After taking her celebrated portrayal of Iphigénie to many of the world’s great opera houses, Graham returns home to the Met for the revival of its Stephen Wadsworth production, as originally mounted for her in 2007. Next, at Houston Grand Opera, she reprises her “breath stopping” (Independent, UK) portrayal of the Composer in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and with the Philadelphia Orchestra, she sings Marguerite in Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, in which role the New York Times pronounced her “terrific.”

When Graham made her Metropolitan Opera house role debut in Stephen Wadsworth’s production of Iphigénie en Tauride, the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini judged her performance “riveting.” The Wall Street Journal remarked, “Susan Graham…is making a specialty of the role. … Tragedy suits her: her Iphigénie made the most of her dark, velvety sound and passionate intensity.”

A critic for London’s Sunday Times described Graham’s Iphigénie at San Francisco Opera:

A role she was born to sing, Iphigénie now belongs to Susan Graham and nobody else. She is spellbinding. … Since she first sang Iphigénie, at the Salzburg Festival in 2000, Graham has made the part her own. … Among the top-ranking singers of today, Graham has the field to herself. She can claim personal credit for the restoration of this sublime masterpiece to the repertoire. … She sings Gluck’s serene airs with a rapt beauty of tone and delivers his great accompanied recits with a fervor that holds the audience spellbound. She sings her heart out in the role – it’s undoubtedly a career landmark. I can’t wait to see and hear it again at Covent Garden.”

Gluck’s 1779 masterpiece Iphigénie en Tauride “has enjoyed a renaissance, thanks to the star power of the superb American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham,” writes Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times, praising “her intense and vulnerable performance,” and the way “she sang with rich, throbbing sound and tragic grandeur, including a magnificent interpretation of ‘O malheureuse Iphigénie’.”

The AP’s Ron Blum observed: “Most of the night’s burden falls on Graham, who commanded the stage from start to finish. The mezzo-soprano sings virtually nonstop during the opening 20 minutes, and Graham was constant emotion, bringing believability to her vulnerability, anger, and dismay. … The opera should be seen for her performance alone.” Now, for the Met’s forthcoming revival, Graham reprises her starring role opposite Plácido Domingo and Paul Groves in Gluck’s masterful interpretation of the Greek myth.

The Texas-bred mezzo then travels to Houston Grand Opera for five appearances as the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, the role in which, as the Independent’s Roderic Dunnett reports, she “took the [Covent Garden] auditorium by storm.” Conducted by Patrick Summers and co-starring Christine Goerke, the Houston production is directed by John Cox, who succeeds in “bringing out the dichotomous nature of the theme with subtlety and finesse” (Culture Vulture); it opens on April 29.

In May, Graham returns to her signature French repertoire; as one of its foremost exponents, she has been honored by the French government with the title “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.” Joined on May 27-28 by fellow Berlioz expert Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra, the mezzo stars as Marguerite in The Damnation of Faust. After the Met staged Berlioz’s légende dramatique, the New York Times’s Tommassini explained: “The mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, an inspired choice as Marguerite, sounds terrific. She was especially fine in ‘D’amour, l’ardente flamme,’…[bringing] a lovely blend of rapturous richness and elegant restraint to this wistful aria, with its elusive melody and soothing, almost Wagnerian orchestral backdrop.”

Decca Releases Rossini’s Armida Starring Renée Fleming

Filmed as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series

In April of 2010 the Metropolitan Opera mounted the company premiere production of Rossini’s opera Armida starring American soprano Renée Fleming in the title role. Fleming had previously triumphed at the opera house in other lesser-known operas (Il Pirata, Thaïs, Rodelinda and others) and so it was with great acclaim that the Met staged this bel canto rarity specifically for the soprano. The May 1, 2010 performance was broadcast as part of the Met’s Live in HD series and it is now brought to DVD by Decca – available February 15, 2011.

For this new production and Met premiere, the opera company not only engaged Renée Fleming for the title role but also enlisted a stellar supporting cast, including Lawrence Brownlee as Rinaldo. Having previously triumphed in La Cenerentola (available on DVD from Deutsche Grammophon) at the house, Brownlee brought the audience to its feet with his warm, lyric voice and thrilling passagework. His tour de force aria in Act 3 was one of many show-stopping moments throughout the performance.

The remaining cast includes five additional Rossini tenors in smaller but crucial roles. A highlight of the performance is the Act 3 trio for three tenors in which Brownlee is joined by Kobie van Rensburg and Barry Banks for this beautiful ensemble.

The production was led by Mary Zimmerman in her third bel canto opera at the Met in as many seasons. Having previously directed Lucia di Lammermoor and La Sonnambula (both available on DVD from Deutsche Grammophon and Decca), Ms. Zimmerman produced a fanciful production to tell this fairy-tale like story. From a pleasure palace to a demonic dance, the production colorfully captures Rossini’s music and propels the story forward.

The DVD release is the next in a long line of Deutsche Grammophon and Decca releases from the Metropolitan Opera. In recent years, both DG and Decca have led the way by releasing a number of Live in HD titles each season. This season DG has released Carmen with Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna, and later this season will release Don Pasquale with Anna Netrebko. Decca has released the historic production of Tosca starring Shirley Verrett and Luciano Pavarotti in the title roles and continues with this release of Armida.

Yuja Wang & Claudio Abbado: Rachmaninov out March 8th, 2011

Yuja Wang & Claudio Abbado, Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2

Grammy-nominated pianist joins the legendary maestro in her first orchestral album to be released March 8th, 2011

“Wang doesn’t merely provide listeners with technically dazzling and heart-stoppingly beautiful accounts of the keyboard repertoire, she seems to be redefining what is possible with the instrument.” San Francisco Chronicle

On March 8th, Deutsche Grammophon releases Grammy-nominated pianist Yuja Wang’s first orchestral album with Rachmaninov’s challenging Piano Concerto No. 2. She pairs this seminal work with the daunting Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the composer’s last composition for piano and orchestra and a keystone of his symphonic œuvre. Claudio Abbado joins Yuja conducting his Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

The 23-year-old Yuja Wang, Gramophone’s “Young Artist of the Year” 2009, hearkens to the no-holds-barred pianistic sensations of the 19th century. She has been described as “A pianist of rare gifts” by the Washington Post while the Philadelphia Inquirer remarks “For her, there is no repertoire too steep to conquer. The technique is simply off the charts.”

Yuja Wang has already been presenting the repertoire on this album on stages throughout the world and will continue to perform Rachmaninov in upcoming engagements this spring in Oregon, Maryland, Pennsylvania and California (details below). “Whereas many pianists try to dominate this set of variations,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted of one of these performances, “she worked with it. This approach simply gave more punch to the places in which the piano should jump out of the texture.” This October, Yuja will embark on a ten-city recital tour that will culminate in her Carnegie Hall recital debut on October 20th.

Colorado Symphony Announces Annual Ball

Motown legends The Temptations will bring down the house at 2011 Symphony Ball

An extraordinary evening awaits Denver on Saturday, May 7 when the Colorado Symphony Ball welcomes one of the most popular vocal groups in music history, The Temptations. With The Temptations on-board, the Colorado Symphony Ball is redefining this unique fundraising evening. You can guarantee The Temptations will light up the night with their fabulous harmonies, unforgettable melodies, smooth-stepping, fine-tuned choreography and, of course, the famous Temptation Walk. The 2011 Ball will create a stirring atmosphere, bridging generations and musical genres, and reflecting the exhilarating array of concert experiences music lovers have come to love and expect from the Colorado Symphony.

The 2011 Host Committee includes Symphony supporters Michael and Tauna Dowling, Kevin and Leanne Duncan, John and Carolee Hayes, Gary Lutz and Margaret Johnson, Heather and Mike Miller, and Willie and Sarah Shepherd. Julie Gordon and Lindsey Wiseman serve as the auction and décor co-chairs.

In 2010, the Colorado Symphony Ball broke new ground for gala events and became one of the most talked-about events in Colorado. In fact, The Denver Post raved that the Ball was "restored to its rightful place in Denver's fundraising hierarchy." The 2010 event also provided tremendous support for the Colorado Symphony. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, the 2010 Ball raised more than $650,000 for Symphony programs, including concerts for schoolchildren and families.

Each year, the Colorado Symphony reaches more than 220,000 concertgoers and 40,000 young students through concerts, outreach, and education programs. With more than 100 performances scheduled for the 2010/11 season, the Colorado Symphony is a vibrant year-round presence in our community. With ticket revenues covering only 50 percent of the Colorado Symphony's operating costs, we rely on the generosity of our donors to make our concerts and community engagement programs possible.

The 2011 Colorado Symphony Ball promises to be a dazzling evening of flair, flash and class as The Temptations entertain with Motown hits such as "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me);" the classic "My Girl" and its adored three-part chime harmony; the irresistible "Ain't Too Proud to Beg;" and the gospel soul masterpiece "The Way You Do the Things You Do."

Guests will enjoy an evening of "temptations," indeed, amidst the Motown ambiance at the Sheraton Denver Plaza Ballroom. Both silent and live auctions will feature unique items including a President's Dinner where eight guests can enjoy a cuisine of their choice prepared by President and CEO Jim Palermo; the opportunity to guest conduct the Colorado Symphony on New Year's Eve; a three-night ranch retreat at the Duncan Family property in the Rawah Mountains; and a Grammy® getaway featuring round-trip airfare, luxury accommodations and tickets to the Grammy® Awards in Los Angeles.

This May, join the Colorado Symphony for a night of Motown magic - all in support of artistic, education and outreach programs. Proceeds from the 2011 Ball will enable the Colorado Symphony to continue its mission of Entertaining through artistic excellence, by Engaging with – and growing – audiences, by Enriching the lives of everyone we touch, and by Educating in the communities where we live and perform.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 7, 2011 and a marvelous evening filled with fine dining, laughter, dancing, Motown Sound, and the classic hits of The Temptations - all in support of the Colorado Symphony!

Colorado Symphony Ball
Spend an Evening with The Temptations
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Plaza Ballroom

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nicola Benedetti to Release Tchaikovsky/Bruch: Violin Concertos

Benedetti Records Romantic Violin Repertoire Released February 22nd, 2011 Performances in Atlanta, South Carolina, North Carolina and Pittsburgh in February and March

“Freely expressive…spontaneous and from the heart. Altogether a very competitive coupling of two of the great violin warhorses, a credit to a fine young artist and her associates. “Gramophone

On February 22nd, Deutsche Grammophon will release violinist Nicola Benedetti’s fifth recording for the label, Tchaikovsky and Bruch’s beloved Violin Concertos. Recorded with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of conductor Jakub Hrůša, the disc has already received accolades from critics in her native Britain, where the Herald Scotland called the recording “the most important thing she has ever done…a momentous disc.”

At the age of 23, several years into a professional career which began at 16 with a hugely popular victory in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition, Nicola Benedetti is finally recording two of the most beloved violin concertos in the repertoire. Reflects Nicola: “A lot of people I speak to after concerts have been asking about the Romantic concertos. When was I going to record Tchaikovsky and Bruch?” As an artist who prides herself on creative, imaginative programs, recording two of the most well known works in the violin canon was a heavy decision. “I’ve been performing Tchaikovsky and Bruch quite a lot and just thought, why not? Perhaps now was the right time.”

Bard SummerScape 2011 Explores Life and Times of Jean Sibelius with Seven-Week Arts Festival in New York’s Hudson Valley

July 7 – August 21, 2011 - Includes 22nd Bard Music Festival, “Sibelius and His World”, and New York’s First Staged Production of Richard Strauss’s Opera Die Liebe der Danae

Scandinavia’s rich cultural heritage, and the question of artistic conservatism in the modernist age, will be explored at the eighth annual Bard SummerScape festival, which once again features a sumptuous tapestry of music, opera, theater, dance, film, and cabaret, keyed to the theme of the 22nd annual Bard Music Festival. Presented in the striking Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and other venues on Bard College’s bucolic Hudson River campus, the seven-week festival opens on July 7 with the first of four performances by Finland’s Tero Saarinen Company, and closes on August 21 with a party in Bard’s beloved Spiegeltent, which returns for the full seven weeks. This year’s Bard Music Festival explores “Sibelius and His World,” and some of the great Finnish symphonist’s most fascinating contemporaries provide other SummerScape highlights, including New York’s first fully-staged production of Richard Strauss’s 1940 opera Die Liebe der Danae; Noël Coward’s chamber opera, Bitter Sweet (1929); Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama The Wild Duck (1884); and a film festival, “Before and After Bergman: The Best of Nordic Film.”

Dubbed “part boot camp for the brain, part spa for the spirit” (New York Times), the Bard Music Festival provides the creative inspiration for SummerScape, presenting “Sibelius and His World”: a far-reaching and illuminating program of orchestral, choral, and chamber concerts, as well as pre-concert talks, panel discussions, and a symposium, all devoted to examining the life and times of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The great Finnish composer’s stirring and evocative music drew inspiration from his homeland’s literary and oral traditions and its prodigious natural beauty, remaining defiantly tonal even during modernism’s most radical musical upheavals. The Bard Music Festival offers an intensive introduction to the world of Scandinavian music, from its luminaries to its lesser-known figures, while also contextualizing Sibelius within the wider musical world, alongside composers both conservative and modernist: fellow late-Romantics, Russian contemporaries, other “nationalist” composers, and the later orchestral writers whom Sibelius would influence. With its recognized gift for thematic programming, Bard achieves a depth and breadth of musical and cultural discovery that is truly unique. The two weekends of the Bard Music Festival will take place on August 12-14 and August 19-21.

Michael Tilson Thomas & the San Francisco Symphony Release 2 New Recordings

Ives’ A Concord Symphony, orchestrated by Henry Brant, Copland’s Organ Symphony featuring Paul Jacobs and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 4 with Emanuel Ax

Following the conclusion of their seven Grammy Award-winning Mahler recording cycle, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will release two new hybrid SACD recordings on February 8, 2011. The recordings will be available for pre-release by download exclusively from Apple’s iTunes Music Store beginning February 1.

To be released by SFS Media on February 8 are recordings of Charles Ives’ A Concord Symphony, orchestrated by Henry Brant, and Copland’s Organ Symphony, with soloist Paul Jacobs, a 2011 Grammy Award nominee. A recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is paired with Piano Concerto No. 4 with soloist Emanuel Ax. All material was captured live in concerts held at Davies Symphony Hall. A Concord Symphony was recorded February 3-6, 2010; Copland’s Organ Symphony on September 22, 23 and 25, 2010; and the Beethoven performances on December 9-12, 2009.

The Dallas Opera Leads Off 2011 with Roméo et Juliette, Followed by Rigoletto

The Dallas Opera’s 2010-11 season revolves around “Dangerous Desires,” a theme of romantic drama and political intrigue, and the February 11-27 production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette in the celebrated Winspear Opera House presents that most iconic story of love and conflict, starring two vocal up-and-comers, Russian soprano Lyubov Petrova and New York-born tenor Charles Castronovo. The star-crossed lovers’ tale will be followed by Verdi’s tragi-comedy Rigoletto (March 25-April 10); a production originally created for London’s Covent Garden, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (April 1-17); and the premiere of a song cycle by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer (April 8). The Boris Godunov production will be the Dallas Opera’s first staging of the Russian epic and the first time Mussorgsky’s opera has been produced in Dallas in more than 30 years.

Starring as Juliette, Petrova previously appeared with the Dallas Opera in The Marriage of Figaro, her performances prompting Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News to write: “Petrova is an adorable dynamo of a Susanna, as sweet as she is feisty and playful. … Her soprano can blaze but also glow warmly.” Her Romeo, Castronovo, is a frequent guest artist of Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Covent Garden and Paris Opera, and is now making his Dallas Opera debut. The tenor recently sang in La traviata opposite Anna Netrebko in San Francisco, and Opera Today captured the moment: “Netrebko nearly met her match in Charles Castronovo, who brought urgency, voluptuously sculpted text delivery, beauty of tone and a handsome stage presence.”

Michael Tilson Thomas & the San Francisco Symphony to Premiere Keeping Score: Mahler on PBS Summer 2011

Orchestra’s acclaimed Keeping Score Project Also Features New Interactive Companion Web Site, National Public Radio Series, Home Video on DVD and Blu-Ray

The San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas will present new episodes of their acclaimed Keeping Score television series on PBS in Summer 2011 (check local listings), exploring the life and music of Gustav Mahler. In a year marking the centenary of both the death of Gustav Mahler and the birth of the San Francisco Symphony, the Orchestra’s Keeping Score project focuses on the enigmatic composer with two one-hour documentary-style episodes, two live-performance programs, new Mahler-related content at http://www.keepingscore.org and a 13-part national radio series. The Keeping Score project is a natural outgrowth of the San Francisco Symphony’s almost century-long commitment to make classical music more accessible and meaningful to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. National broadcast dates on PBS will be announced later this spring.

Janine Jansen plays a program of French music with recital partner Itamar Golan to be Released February 22nd

“At once elegant and electrifying, the beautiful Dutch violinist has taken the concert world by storm with her jewel-like sound and innovative yet impeccable sense of musical style.” Town & Country “Exuberant and just plain dazzling.” Los Angeles Times

On February 22nd, Decca will release violinist Janine Jansen’s seventh studio album and her first recital recording. Entitled Beau Soir after Debussy's evocation of evening, the album by the “extravagantly gifted” (Vogue) Dutch virtuoso takes us from dusk to the moonlit night, from lullabies into sleep, from dreams to awakening and recollection.

Jansen’s regular recital partner, pianist Itamar Golan joins her in this journey through the night. Popular classics such as Fauré’s Berceuse and Après un rêve, Debussy's Claire de lune and Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne are contrasted with three substantial works; sonatas by Debussy and Ravel, and Messiaen's Theme and Variations.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Week's Top Ticket in Denver: Faun, Fleisher & Fantastique

Join the Colorado Symphony for piano great Leon Fleisher followed by the classic Symphonie fantastique.

MASTERWORKS SERIES
Faun, Fleisher & Fantastique
2/26 - 7:30 p.m
2/27 - 2:30 p.m.
Boettcher Concert Hall

Douglas Boyd, principal guest conductor
Leon Fleisher, piano

DEBUSSY / Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
RAVEL / Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
BERLIOZ / Symphonie fantastique

Principal Guest Conductor Douglas Boyd leads a program of sumptuous French works. The languid strains of Debussy are complemented perfectly by Ravel's jazzy Concerto for the Left Hand, featuring the legendary Leon Fleisher. The program concludes with Symphonie fantastique, complete with a "March to the Scaffold" and "Dreams of a Witches' Sabbath."

Come early Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a Prelude conversation to the performance, or stay after Saturday's for a Talkback session with Principal Guest Conductor Douglas Boyd.

Tickets available online at www.coloradosymphony.org or call the box office at 303.623.7876.

Sony Classical Releases Nikolaus Harnoncourt Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem

With Vienna Philharmonic, Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Baritone Thomas Hampson And Soprano Genia Kühmeier

Sony Classical announces the release of conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, op.45 available Tuesday, February 1, 2011. As with many Harnoncourt releases, he shows the world just how “new” old music can sound. In recent years, Harnoncourt has been giving audiences a fresh view on some of the masterpieces of Romantic and late-Romantic music.

This is not the first time that Harnoncourt tackled Brahms’s “German Requiem,” but it is the first time that he explored the composer’s ideas on how it should be performed. Brahms originally conceived the piece to be performed by smaller groups. However, as the Requiem gained popularity (after the first concert performance in 1869), it was mostly performed by large choirs and orchestras. Brahms also made an intimate version to be performed by a few voices and two pianos. A preview of this work took place in Dessau in 1868 with a choir of twelve voices and one piano.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt studied all these aspects of the Requiem in depth, and his sensitive and thoughtful interpretation demonstrates a new approach to the work. Technically and artistically, the new recording is a replica of the concert he gave in Vienna in December 2007, which received rave reviews.

The recording features internationally renowned baritone Thomas Hampson and soprano Genia Kühmeier as soloists. Harnoncourt conducts the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, with which his connections go back more than thirty years, and the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra that knows the conductor’s interpretative ideas well.

Opera Colorado congratulates Ryan Speedo Green, winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Rocky Mountain regional competition

Ryan Speedo Green, an ensemble member of Opera Colorado's Young Artists, won the Rocky Mountain regional competition of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions on Saturday, January 29, and advances to the national semi-final competition in New York City in early March.

The competition took place at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver and featured eleven singers competing for the chance to compete on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. The National Council Auditions have helped to discover many major opera talents over the past 56 years. Approximately 100 former participants in the auditions appear on the Metropolitan Opera's roster every season. Nearly half of those are former national winners. Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Deborah Voigt and many other opera luminaries were once winners of the Met Auditions.

"Ryan's performance brought about an electricity in the audience that was thrilling to feel," said Stephen Dilts, chairman of the Rocky Mountain regional auditions and a member of the Opera Colorado Board of Directors.

"Ryan is a tremendous young talent," said Cherity Koepke, Director of the Opera Colorado Young Artist and Opera Colorado's Director of Education and Community Programs. "Ryan's singing captivated me in the first three notes of his audition for the Young Artists last year. I am happy that others recognize his talent and potential. He possesses a dynamic voice with a rich timbre."

Christie Hageman, also an Opera Colorado Young Artist, placed third in Saturday's competition. "I am very proud of all five of our Young Artists," Koepke continued. "They are all exceptional, highly dedicated artists who are passionate about their careers. I feel that we have a strong residency program and that Ryan and Christie's top three finishes at the competition speaks to the caliber of the artists we bring into our program and the quality of the program itself."

"I was speechless when they announced the results and I am still at a loss for words," Mr. Green said. "I auditioned to get feedback about my voice. I never expected to win. I did feel really strong going on stage thanks to all the work I did with Cherity and with Steven Aguilo-Arbues, Opera Colorado's coach and accompanist. The chance to perform for so many schools and community groups this year has really helped me with these arias."

Great Idea to Get People Using the stairs

Here is a video of how some engineers encouraged people to take the stairs...