Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing


2 Comments

Free Concert Webcasts: Berlioz, Elgar, New Music, and Opera!

Tomorrow, 21 October 2017 at 8:00 PM EDT (GMT -5), visit dso.org/live for a performance of Harold in Italy by Hector Berlioz, Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and the world premiere of Loren Loiacono’s Smothered by Sky (at link see page 19).

The Opera Platform website, long the home of free opera webcasts, is now Operavision.eu.  Operas typically remain available for viewing on the site for six months after their initial webcast, and some are available with subtitles in multiple languages.  Operas currently available on the new website include Puccini’s Tosca and Madama Butterfly, Handel’s Acis and Galatea, and Verdi’s La Traviata.  Haven’t watched opera before? Check out Operavision’s New To Opera? tab for some helpful information.

Also, opera fans, please note that Operavision will present Wagner’s entire Ring cycle in separate webcasts beginning 28 October 2017, and, on a lighter note, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on 3 November.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Friday Freebies! Rachmaninoff and Puccini’s La Bohème

Photograph of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff and Poster for Puccini's La Boheme

Get ready for a Friday doubleheader! (yes, I realize using a baseball term to describe classical concerts is a little weird, but go with me on this one)

At 10:45AM EDT (14:45 UTC), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present “The Romance of Rachmaninoff.”  The program will include Rachmaninoff’s Russian Song and Symphony No. 1.  The conductor will be Neeme Järvi.  Cellist Zuill Bailey will be featured in composer Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway, a portrayal of the life of American author Ernest Hemingway.  You can see the DSO webcast here.

At 2:00PM EDT (18:00 UTC), The Opera Platform will present a performance of Puccini’s La Bohème from the Teatro Regio TorinoSee the performance and read more about it here.

For those watching at home, formal attire and/or rally caps are optional.

_____

Image attributions: Sergei Rachmaninoff, photograph by Kubey Rembrandt (Philadephia, Pennsylvania) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sergei_Rachmaninoff_cph.3a40575.jpg

La Bohème poster by Adolfo Hohenstein (1854-1928), Publisher: G. Ricordi & Co. (Allposters) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ALa_Boheme_poster_by_Hohenstein.PNG


Leave a comment

Free Opera Binge Watching!

stick guy singing opera on a television with a viking helmet for an antenna

I had hoped to showcase this weekend’s livestream of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (musical direction by Kirill Petrenko, with a fine cast including Jonas Kaufmann) from the Bavarian State Opera.  However, it has been postponed.  For more information, click hereHere is a video about the production.

Undeterred, I searched the internet for a replacement.

I have found you hours and hours of opera.  And I don’t mean The Ring cycle.

The Vienna State Opera  is currently offering for free Wagner’s Parsifal and Götterdämmerung (ok, some of The Ring; click here for details). The opera company typically offers livestreams by subscription (single, monthly, by season).  You can watch at the time of event, or slightly time shifted to accommodate your time zone.

Not a Wagner fan? Here’s what The Opera Platform website has for you right now (the assortment changes over time; click here for details):

Bell  In Parenthesis

Bizet  Carmen

Boesmans  Reigen

Debussy  Pelléas et Mélisande (not available for viewing in the US)

Puccini  Manon Lescaut

Rossini  The Barber of Seville

Tchaikovsky  Eugene Onegin

Tchaikovsky  The Queen of Spades

Verdi  Macbeth

Wagner  Parsifal

(this is the same production available at the Vienna State Opera site)

Wagner  The Valkyries

 Enjoy!

_____

Image attribution: C. Gallant, 2016.


6 Comments

Nessun Dorma:  Brilliant and Surprising Performances

Turandot

Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot was sung in Philadelphia at an event for the recent papal visit.  What is unusual is that it was sung by Aretha Franklin.  But this was not the first time she had performed the aria.

In 1998 Aretha Franklin stepped in at the last minute for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammy Awards and performed a surprising and soulful rendition.

Nessun Dorma has been performed by scores of soloists, and a perusal of YouTube will yield a variety of renditions, from the sublime to the unconventional (here I’m thinking of Marc Martel’s remarkable dual impersonation of Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury).

Here are some highlights to consider: one of any number of performances by Pavarotti; Aretha Franklin’s 1998 performance at the Grammys, one by 1950s heartthrob Mario Lanza from the movie Serenade, and a recent performance by Jonas Kaufmann, who just released a Puccini album (spectacular! and see the NPR review here).

Beautiful.  Seeming perfection.  Makes you wonder, do these guys ever mess up?

Well, they’re pros, so it’s rare, but they’re human, so it happens.

How about from the stage of La Scala?

Watch how Jonas Kaufmann handles it with humor and style.  I found out that this was an encore–one of five–during a 40 minute ovation after a Puccini recital at La Scala.

Vincerò indeed!

_______

Image attribution: Artist unknown, 1926 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APoster_Turandot.jpg


2 Comments

Opera in Pajamas

(you, not the performers.  Although that would be interesting)

Can’t make it to Milan to see an opera at La Scala?  I feel your pain.  Maybe this will help.

If you’re curious about opera, but didn’t know where to start, here’s a low-budget way (meaning, in this case, free) to see what it’s all about…in your pajamas if you’d like.

The Opera Platform website is intended for those new to opera as well as seasoned attendees and is intended to promote European opera companies.  A number of operas have been made available as video on demand and include subtitles.  A new opera is added each month, and is available on demand for six months.  See their About Us page for more details.  The site features operas by Wagner, Sibelius, and Verdi (La Traviata) to name a few, and Puccini’s La Boheme will be added soon.

Another venue for full opera performances is the Warner Classics TV channel on YouTube.  And the Metropolitan Opera offers a free 7-day trial to their Met Opera on Demand streaming service.

Need a little background info before you dive into the operas?  There are numerous books dedicated to demystifying opera (headed to the library?  Dewey decimal number 782.1).  Don’t have that much time?  Sinfini Music has put together a number of comic strips outlining the plots of famous operas.  You can find the comic strips here.

While these are great on-ramps to opera, there is no substitute for the thrill of live performance.  If you like what you hear, check the web for local opera companies and performances in your area.  There are a lot of talented folks out there who would love to have you come out and enjoy all the hard work, time, and devotion they put into their craft.   They’d also prefer that you not attend in your pajamas.

No opera in your area?  Head to your local library or favorite online merchant.  Many operas are available not only on CD but DVD as well (including BluRay).  Nothing beats a live performance, but the sound and visual quality of the recordings are typically top-notch.  I saw Les Troyens by Berlioz on BluRay and it was spectacular.

So settle into your chair, wherever it may be, and get ready for a treat.  If you see something you think is great, let us all know so we can see it too!

Postscript:  After writing this, I found two great operas on pristine LPs at my local thrift shop.  Total cost:  $3.90.

  • Wagner’s Tannhäuser, with soprano Birgit Nilsson and tenor Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Deutsche Oper Berlin conducted by Otto Gerdes
  • Verdi’s Aida, with soprano Montserrat Caballé and tenor Placido Domingo, New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti.

which led me to find the Riccardo Muti’s recording label website on which one can stream Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under his direction.

Must. stop. finding. links.