Browsing: La Scena Online

Don Carlo Curtain Call (l. to r.: Thomas Hampson, Rene Pape, Nadia Krasteva, Ramon Vargas, Marco Armiliato, Olga Guryakova, Paata Burchuladze)For Verdi Opera lovers, any performance of Don Carlo is an occasion. Based on the Schiller play, this is one of Verdi’s grandest operas, one that operates on multiple levels – social, geopolitical, religious, historical as well as individual/human levels. It’s one of those operas that one gains more insight with each viewing. A truly grand work that requires a large orchestra and singers of the first rank, it is certainly not a show that can be done on the…

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By L.H. Tiffany Hsieh More than a few times during his all-Schumann piano recital Tuesday evening, Anton Kuerti looked like he was frustrated with himself. Unfortunately, he sounded liked it too.Opening the fifth annual Toronto Summer Music Festival at Koerner Hall, Kuerti, who turns 72 years old this week, played with his usual integrity and nobility; but he missed too many notes to keep track of.The blemished performance must have distracted even the celebrated pianist, because at times he took it out on the piano, hitting the jumps instead of landing them. Passages that required military precision came across as loose…

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A space ship? No, it’s Dr. Dulcamara’s vehicle – the funny David Boesch’s L’elisir d’amore at the Munich Opera festivalThis delightfully wacky L’elisir d’amore premiered at the Bavarian State Opera in December 2009. Most of the cast are back for this year’s Munich Opera Festival revival – Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze as Adina, the imposing Ambrogio Maestri as Dr. Dulcamara, and Fabio Maria Capitanucci as a macho Belcore. Even the conductor remained the same – Juraj Vallcuha. The only change last night was in the Nemorino himself. Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, the Nemorino last December, is supposed to be replaced…

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Friday, July 23rd marks the birthday of Italian composer Francesco Cilea, who was born in 1866 and died in 1950. Together with Puccini, Giordano, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Catalani, Ponchielli and others, Cilea was an exponent of the “blood and guts” verismo style. Today he is primarily remembered for his opera Adriana Lecouvreur, a real diva vehicle that hovers on the fringes of the standard repertoire. Cilea also composed four other operas but they are pretty much forgotten except for the aria, “Lamento di Frederico” from the rarely performed L’Arlesiana. A young Caruso sang its premiere in 1897. Since then, countless tenors have given…

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Mario! Mario! Mario! The three huge banners hanging between the Grecian columns said it all. Puccini’s great opera may be called Tosca, but it is as much about Cavaradossi as it’s about the Roman prima donna. A great tenor demands equal billing. The Munich Opera certainly has a great Cavaradossi in its native son tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Without a doubt, Kaufmann is the hottest spinto tenor in front of the public today. His ability to excel in German, Italian and French repertoires is remarkable. In this production of Tosca, Kaufmann and the Finnish diva Karita Mattila (Tosca), aided and abetted…

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by Paul E. RobinsonSUMMER MUSIC FESTIVALS 2010Aspen Music Festival and School After a few days in Vail enjoying the music-making of Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Marita and I drove over to Aspen, about 100 miles away through the mountains. What we found there was a much older community and a festival and school operating on an equally high artistic plane but with a more varied range of goals and activities. True, Aspen has been in the news lately for its administrative infighting which saw music director and conductor David Zinman…

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Tenor Ben Heppner headlines Stratford Summer Music(Photo: Kristin Hoebermann)Stratford has long been famous for its Shakespeare, but for classical music lovers in southern Ontario, the Stratford Summer Music is a welcome musical oasis in the months of July and August, while major musical organizations the likes of the Toronto Symphony and the Canadian Opera Company are in hiatus. Billed as “Stratford’s Other Festival”, SSM is now in its 10th season under the directorship of John Miller. With the news this week that the attempt to start a classical music festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake has been met with failure, classical music lovers…

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by Naomi GoldOn a sultry summer night on May 26, 2010, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra welcomed some six hundred supporters to their 12th annual Midsummer Night’s Ball. The soirée’s leitmotif was movement. Herewith, the high notes from this year’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ gala, in five movements:Andante — Allegro con anima e con brio (chinotto)Arriving attendees are amazed by an imaginative, labyrinthian entrance to Complexe Desjardins—disguised as an opulent Venetian ballroom—for the black tie, red carpet gala. Enhancing the mystique are costumed hostesses and ushers who distribute masks to intrigued guests. Upstairs on level four, the Hyatt Regency Hotel hosts…

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Italian bass Cesare Siepi passed away after suffering a stroke in Atlanta, Georgia on July 5. A native of Milan, Italy, Siepi was to many the greatest Italian bass in the second half of the 20th century – pace Ezio Pinza fans! Siepi combined a truly gorgeous basso cantante with innate musicality and dramatic verisimilitude. In a long career spanning some 50 years (from 1941 to late 1980s), Siepi was a justly famous Don Giovanni, Boris Godunov, King Phillip, and Mefistopheles. He was also known for his matinee idol looks and slim figure. Singing in an era when the public focused more…

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by Paul E. RobinsonSUMMER FESTIVALS 2010Bravo! Vail Valley Music FestivalImagine a music festival that features three of the world’s top orchestras in successive week-long residencies. Throw into the mix the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Gil Shaham. Shake things up with some of the best conductors at work today: Jaap van Zweden, Alan Gilbert, Charles Dutoit, and Marin Alsop. And don’t forget to add lots of chamber music. Set all this talent up in one of the most spectacular mountain locations you can think of – say, Vail, Colorado – and run your festival for about six weeks.…

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