Thursday, 30 December 2010

Norwegian barihunk Visiting Grieg

EDVARD GRIEG: Hjertets melodier, Op. 5 (Melodies of The Heart) · 12 Melodies, Op. 33 (Poems by O.A. Vinje) · Romances and songs, Op. 18 (Poems by H. C. Andersen) · from Five poems by John Paulsen, Op. 26 · from Six Songs, Op. 48Johannes Weisser, baritone · Søren Rastogi, pianoPSC1310 SACD/Hybrid 5.1 Surround & Stereo

Johannes Weisser solo debut!

Johannes Weisser is among the foremost young baritones on European stages today, and also celebrated for his Don Giovanni recording with René Jacobs. Now he is ready with his debut solo-CD; visiting the songs of his fellow Norwegian Edvard Grieg. Weisser’s insightful and strong readings sets a new standard for the Grieg songs.

“We want to convey these songs as closely and directly as possible”. Weisser and Rastogi have collaborated for a long time, aiming directly for the heart of the emotional expression of the songs, no filters applied. With his phenomenal vocal recourses and natural talent for musical communication, Weisser’s Grieg songs emerge as pure art of the moment.

Grieg and the “secret intentions of the poet”

“For me it is not about making music, but first and foremost about doing justice to the secret intentions of the poet”, Grieg at one time explained. He hit bull’s eye already in his first opus of songs Melodies of the Heart; including such immediate and eternal hits as I love but Thee! and Two Brown Eyes. The poetry of H.C. Andersen is undeniably somewhat rich by today’s standards. Weisser and Rastogi do not repress this pathos, but rather incorporates it into a natural, impulsive musical expression.

The Vinje songs

Grieg’s songs to the Norwegian poet O.A. Vinje (1818-70) are from a time of great personal and artistic troubles. In this powerful poet Grieg found a soul mate and an artistic inspiration, and many of his best known songs are from this collection. Says Weisser: “These songs combine lines requiring a broad vocal format with the very simple and immediate melodies and a transparent accompaniment. The vocal is often written so that it invites to an operatic approach, while at the same time the music and the unmistakable inspiration from the folk music invites to a very simple style of singing. I have tried to approach these songs without too much distance, so that I might retain the soreness, enthusiasm, power and longing that both Vinje’s texts and Grieg’s music holds.

Johannes Weisser

Born 1980, Weisser today has an international career equalled by few other Norwegian artists of his generation. 23 years old he made his debut at the Norwegian Opera. These days he performs at Théâtre de La Monnaie Brussels, Royal Danish Opera, Komische Oper Berlin, Salzburg Festival, with conductors like René Jacobs, Fabio Biondi, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Philippe Herreweghe both in opera productions, concerts and recordings.
- Weisser has a wonderful voice which he uses with understanding and insight. The broad spectrum of this repertoire displays a young singer with empathy. [6/6 Idar Karevold / Aftenposten]

Monday, 27 December 2010

Looking ahead to 2011

With 2010 approaching it's end, we at Classicalify will present some of the good stuff coming in 2011. Here we go. Swedish up-and-coming soprano Malin Byström will sing Mathilde in EMI Classics 2011 release Rossini's final opera Guillaume Tell. The recording was made in October 2010 during concerts in Rome with Antonio Pappano leading the forces of his Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia and starring Gerald Finley as the independence loving Tell and John Osborn as the Arnold, the love interest of Mathilde. The recording will present a nearly complete take of the score and obviously aims at becoming the new reference. Reviews of the concerts on the web have been positive, but the challenge of surpassing Gedda and Caballe in the old Gardelli reference recording is, to put it mildly, daunting. Come 2011 and we will now the results.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Classicalify wishes everybody a Merry Christmas! Hopefully you'll get many fantastic opera and concert tickets from big old father christmas. And maybe some CDs, DVDs and Bluray discs, if you still enjoy your music from physical media. If not maybe a subscription to Spotify and a gym membership. The latter to work off those extra pounds you'll get from being stuck in front of your spotified computer, listening to that old pirated Gencer recording you never found until Spotify entered your life.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Vivaldi Rock

A new release from Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante with a stellar cast. Some reservations though for Villazon in this baroque style. But the rest of the cast is among the best!

Here a review from where you also can buy it. The recording is also on Spotify for all you downloaders!

Vivaldi's 1723 opera "Ercole sul Termodonte", his first to be performed in Rome, was a huge hit, pulling off what Oxford Professor of Music Reinhard Strohm described as "an aesthetic coup d'état in Roman opera".
Director Fabio Biondi has attempted a reconstruction from the surviving (complete) libretto, along with various musical manuscripts scattered across Europe. He supplies full analytical notes concerning the reconstruction in the accompanying booklet. Essentially much of what we have here is a modern creation cobbled together by Biondi, filling in the gaps; normally this kind of thing, knowing that it's not quite the real deal, would bother me a little when listening, but the sheer beauty of this recording wipes away such worries.
Rolando Villazón (Ercole) for me personally has the kind of voice which belongs more properly to a later age, of Rossini and Verdi; but I can forgive this choice given the rest of the cast.
As the Amazons: Vivica Geneaux (mezzo, Antiope) is an authoritative queen; Joyce DiDonato (mezzo, Ippolita) is outstanding as a fearsome warrior princess falling in love with Teseo, delivering tender love songs; the lovely Patrizia Ciofi (soprano, Orizia) is sadly a bit underutilised in terms of the number of arias she gets; Diana Damrau (soprano, Martesia) is delightful but maybe lacks a slight edge at times.
Playing Ercole's Greek companions: Romina Basso (Teseo), billed here as a mezzo, delivers real depth like a contralto, a solid performance in the trouser role and for me probably the standout performer of this set; Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor, Alceste) is just gorgeous as always and probably my favourite performer of the moment; Topi Lehtipuu (tenor, Telamone) is more like my idea of a baroque tenor though seems to have a tendency to try to imitate Villazón at times, especially when the two of them converse in the recitative.
Biondi's direction is excellent, the ensemble "Europa Galante" combines beautifully with the vocalists, and the sound in the recording is warm and space filling. The set comes as two discs in cardboard sleeves with sizeable accompanying booklet with notes, synopsis and libretto with translations, in English, French and German, all contained in a hinged cardboard box.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Non vesti la giubba

Today was the second and final peformance of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm. They were conducted by Daniel Harding, principal conductor of the orchestra of the evening, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In view of the up-coming La Scala Pagliacci they were most likely Harding's try out of the verismo style at a safe distance from the nasty loggionisti at La Scala.

And quite good it was, especially for a first try of the verismo style. Harding was on point in milking some of the score for dramatic effect, after all it's verismo blood and death. On the whole he kept things going forward, with good dramatic instincts. The score actually sounded more transparant, with all groups of the orchestra balanced and present. The orchestra itself was on great form, the strings loving every verismo drop of vibrato, and brass secure and self confident when needed. On hand was also the Swedish Radio Choir, who was its usual magnificent self. How glorious to hear the choral parts sung like this, ie as written in the score and not wobbling and shouting all over the place.

Vocally the find of the evening was the brazilian tenor Thiago Arancam. And not only vocally, mind you. Tall, slim and with South American good looks he must be every casting director's wet tenor dream, thus the heading. Add a healthy, well produced voice with a quite beautiful darkish timbre and a sure sense of musicality, he should be bound for tenor stardom. Given that his voice keeps up with the heavy repertoire his already well into, that is. While not small, this voice is not in the Botha or Domingo class, yet. His middle is still of medium size, and the top is certainly able to thrill decibel wise, but the thrills might have a price tag on them. But with care, Mr Arancam is well positioned for a big career and is certainly the real thing.

Next to him, Nuccia Focile (a replacement for Oksana Dyka) sounded a bit old, unfortunately. Her voice is certainly showing some wear and tear. Although never beautiful in the classical sense, Focile today sounds somewhat matronly at the top of her range. She compensates with good dramatic instincts, though. Tonio was sung by Alberto Mastromarino , a good and robust italian baritone. Apart from some frogs in the throat - a cold maybe? - and the low option in his prologue aria, he was a good villain in true verismo style. Christopher Maltman as Silvio, was good, but next to Mr Mastromarino sounded distinctly un italian. His timbre is not to our liking in this role either, a bit unfocused and lacking in velvet.

On the whole it was quite a successful evening with massive applause for everyone and Mr Arancam, Harding and the orchestra in particular.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

New Court Singers in Sweden

Miah Persson, Anna Larsson och Malena Ernman utsedda till hovsångerskor

Operasångerskorna Anna Larsson, Malena Ernman och Miah Persson utnämns av Kungen till hovsångerskor från den 1 januari 2011.
Hovsångare eller hovsångerska är en hederstitel instiftad av Gustav III. De först utnämnda hovsångarna var Elisabeth Olin och Carl Stenborg 1773.

Swedish singers Miah Persson, Anna Larsson and Malena Ernman has been named Court Singer by His Majesty the King of Sweden.
Classicalify celebrates!!!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Opera Prize 2010

The Swedish magazine Tidskriften Opera gives it's Opera Prize 2010 to singer Åke Zetterström at Gothenburgh Opera. Classicalify congratulates!
"Jag blev både glad och förvånad över att få Operapriset, säger Åke Zetterström när jag ringer och meddelar den lyckliga nyheten. Ungefär som att göra en ofrivillig baklängesvolt. Det känns mycket hedrande."
Read more:
And to tell you the truth... this was the most interesting news in that magazine this time...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Don Carlos by Verdi in Gothenburgh

Premiere November 20, 2010
For the first time in over 20 years Verdi’s magnificent opera Don Carlos will be performed in Gothenburg. Directed by Staffan Valdemar Holm.
Opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901).

The grand historic opera Don Carlos is based on the freedom play of the same name, by Schiller. But Verdi put his imprint on the opera in his masterly characterisation of the different roles: the powerful but oh so lonely King Philip, his intensely pubertal son Don Carlos, freedom fighter Posa, the unhappy Queen Elisabeth and her temperamental and intriguing lady-in-waiting Eboli.

The story takes place in Spain in 1560 and centres on an unhappy love story that paralyses the Spanish Royal family. Don Carlos and Elisabeth love each other, but due to political reasons she is forced to marry his father, King Philip. The inconsolable Don Carlos is forced into a struggle for power that eventually leads to his own father condemning him to death.
For this production we have engaged former Head of Dramaten (The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm) Staffan Valdemar Holm. Staffan has produced a number of Verdi operas abroad and has a special love for Schiller. His constant scenography partner, and wife, Bente Lykke Møller, has created a magnificent decor and historical costumes. The famous Rumanian conductor Christian Badea returns to Gothenburg for this production. He last performed at the Gothenburg opera in our production of Turandot.
We are proud to be able to fill many of the demanding principal parts with our own singers. Tomas Lind repeats his Don Carlos from other opera houses. Anders Lorentzson portrays Philip as the lonely father and finds worthy bass resistance in Mats Almgren in his role as the Grand Inquisitor. In the role of Philip’s wife Elisabeth we present Annalena Persson, returning to us after finding great success abroad.
Read more and se pictures and film clips on:

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Adriana Lecouvreur. London.

Opera in four acts

Music by Francesco Cilea
Libretto by Arturo Colautti after Eugéne Scribe and Ernest Legouvé's play
Adrienne Lecouvreur.

Royal Opera House Covent Garden
Orchestra of the Royal opera house
Chorus of the Royal opera house
Conducted by Mark Elder
Directed by David McVicar

Michonnet Alessandro Corbelli
Poisson Iain Paton
Quinault David Soar
Mademoiselle Jouvenot Janis Kelly
Mademoiselle Dangeville Sarah Castle
Prince De Bouillon Maurizio Muraro
Abbé De Chazeuil Bonaventura Bottone
Adriana Lecouvreur Angela Gheorghiu
Maurizio Jonas Kaufmann
Princesse de Bouillon Michaela Schuster

Cileas opera Adriana Lecouvreur is rarely staged. The opera has not been performed in London since 1906. Classicalify went to London to see the second performance.
Set in Paris in the year 1730 the story is about famed actress Adriana Lecouvreur who is in love with Maurizio the count of Saxony. The count has political support from the Princesse de Bouillon. When the princess finds out that Adriana is in love with the count she tries to end their affair by spreading false news that the count is dead. But fails. She wants Adriana killed.

A wonderful opera that deserves to be performed more often. Cilea may seem, today,an obscure one compared to those of his contemporaries, Mascagni, Leoncavallo and above all Puccini.
The general public may feel insecure to see an opera that is unknown to most of us.
But that shouldn't stop you. Opera is not hard to understand. It's music and words.
You don't have to be educated in opera history and speak italian to enjoy this opera.
Just go and enjoy yourself. The chance to see Kaufmann and Gheorghiu perform together is very rare. They perform to great satisfaction. Kaufmann is born to play this part. Gheorghiu shows again she is the top soprano of the Royal opera house. Classicalify still remembers with great joy her amazing performance in La Traviata last summer. Go see this prodcution. It's worth it.
Make sure Gheorghiu sings. She is known to cancel her performances. But she loves to sing at Covent Garden so hopefully she will sing all her performances.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Opera on the Internet

Classicalify just want to remind all of you operalovers about the possibility to listen and record live performances from the internet. The number one source to find your broadcasts around the world is

Classicalify also want to thank Mr and Mrs Riggs for keeping this page updated!

An easy and downloadable program to record and edit is
PolderbitS. You find it here:

Sunday, 7 November 2010

If not Houston, maybe Sevilla !

Wagner fans around the world can really get their kicks the coming years heading for 2013 - the Wagner Year.

In Sevilla Teatro de la Maestranza plans a Ring starting November 2010.
Why not? Cast doesn't look to bad!

El Teatro de la Maestranza de Sevilla asume uno de sus retos más importantes de su historia al afrontar la representación de El Anillo del Nibelungo de Richard Wagner en cuatro temporadas consecutivas. Se trataba de un proyecto acariciado por el teatro hispalense desde hacía tiempo y que ahora va a comenzar su andadura con las vistas puestas en el año 2013, bicentenario del nacimiento del compositor, y en la que está prevista la conclusión de esta tetralogía.
Dada la complejidad que conlleva una producción de estas características, la Maestranza ha optado por representar la producción escénica realizada por La Fura del Baus para el Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía de Valencia y el Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, y que se estrenó en la capital levantina hace casi cuatro años.
Durante el mes de noviembre de 10 está programado el prólogo de la obra, Das Rheingold, que podrá verse en cuatro funciones el jueves 4, sábado 6, lunes 8 y miércoles 10. El madrileño Pedro Halffter, director artístico del teatro sevillano, será el encargado de dirigir la obra. Halffter está siendo el gran embajador de la música wagneriana en Sevilla en las últimos temporadas, ya que fue su batuta la que dirigió Tristan e Isolda o El Holandés Errante.
El reparto será el formado por cantantes muy habituales en el Bayreuth del presente siglo, como Jukka Rasilainen (Wotan), Hans-Joachim Ketelsen (Donner), Wolfgang Schmidt (Mime), Elena Zhidkova (Fricka), Hanna Schwarz (Erda) o Atala Schöck (Flosshilde) , que estarán acompañados por las voces de José Ferrero (Froh), Robert Brubaker (Loge), Attila Jun (Fasolt), Stephen Bronk (Fafner), Gordon Hawkins (Alberich), Keri Alkema (Freia), Júlia Farrés-Llongueras (Woglinde) y Alexandra Rivas (Wellgunde).

El miércoles 3 de noviembre, la víspera del estreno, se impartirá una conferencia sobre El Oro del Rin en la Sala de Prensa del Teatro, a las 19:00 y con acceso libre hasta llenar el aforo.

Renée Fleming Nordic tour starts in Copenhagen.

Wonderful world leading soprano, Renée Fleming, starts her Nordic tour in Copenhagen and continues with Aarhus, Stockholm, Oslo and end in Helsinki.

November 07
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra
November 10
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
November 13
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor Konserthus Stockholm
November 16
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor NRK Symphony Orchestra
November 19
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor Finlandia Hall

Read more about our Diva No1 on her page:

Shirley Verrett, Opera Singer of Power and Grace, Is Dead at 79

Shirley Verrett in 1973 in “Les Troyens.”

Shirley Verrett, the vocally lustrous and dramatically compelling American opera singer who began as a mezzo-soprano and went on to sing soprano roles to international acclaim, died Friday morning at her home in Ann Arbor, Mich. She was 79.

The cause was heart failure after several months of illness, said her daughter, Francesca LoMonaco.

In her prime years Ms. Verrett was a remarkably complete and distinctive operatic artist. She had a plush, rich and powerful voice, thorough musicianship, insightful dramatic skills, charisma and beauty. If she never quite reached mythic status, she came close.

After singing the soprano role of Lady Macbeth in a landmark 1975 production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” at La Scala in Milan, demanding Milanese critics and impassioned Italian opera fans called her La Nera Callas (the Black Callas) and flocked to her every performance.
Her Lady Macbeth is preserved on a classic 1976 Deutsche Grammophon recording, conducted by Claudio Abbado. And in the early 1980s, she was so popular in Paris that she lived there with her family for three years.

In the early days, like black artists before her, she experienced racial prejudice, as she recounts in her memoir, “I Never Walked Alone.” In 1959 the conductor Leopold Stokowski hired her to sing the Wood Dove in a performance of Schoenberg’s “Gurrelieder” with the Houston Symphony, but the orchestra’s board would not allow a black soloist to appear. To make amends, a shaken Stokowski took Ms. Verrett to the Philadelphia Orchestra for a performance of Falla’s “Amor Brujo,” which led to a fine recording.

By her own admission, Ms. Verrett’s singing was inconsistent. Even some admiring critics thought that she made a mistake by singing soprano repertory after establishing herself as one of the premiere mezzo-sopranos of her generation, riveting as Bizet’s Carmen and Saint-Saëns’s Delila. A contingent of vocal buffs thought that her voice developed breaks and separated into distinct registers.

To Ms. Verrett the problem was not the nature of her voice but health issues. During the peak years she suffered from allergies to mold spores that could clog her bronchial tubes. She could not predict when her allergies would erupt. In 1976, just six weeks after singing Adalgisa in Bellini’s “Norma” at the Metropolitan Opera (a role traditionally performed by mezzo-sopranos), she sang the daunting soprano title role on tour with the Met, including a performance in Boston that earned a frenzied ovation. In his Boston Globe review, the critic Richard Dyer wrote that “what Verrett did added her Norma to that select company of contemporary performances that have enlarged the dimensions of operatic legend.”

Yet, in 1979, when New Yorkers finally had the chance to hear Ms. Verrett’s Norma at the Met, her allergies acted up and undermined her singing, as Ms. Verrett recalled in her memoir. Among her 126 performances with the Met, however, were many triumphs.
In 1973, when the company opened its historic production of Berlioz’s “Troyens,” starring Jon Vickers as Aeneas, Ms. Verrett sang not only the role of Cassandra in Part I of this epic opera, but also Dido in Part II, taking the place of the mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, who had withdrawn because of an illness, a tour de force that entered Met annals.

In his New York magazine review the critic Alan Rich wrote that Ms. Verrett was “glorious to behold, and her luscious, pliant voice is at this moment in prime estate.” And in the Met’s 1978-79 season Ms. Verrett sang Tosca to Luciano Pavarotti’s Cavaradossi in a production of Puccini’s “Tosca” that was broadcast live on public television, which is available on a Decca DVD.
At her best, Ms. Verrett could sing with both mellow richness and chilling power. Her full-voiced top notes easily cut through the orchestral outbursts in Verdi’s “Aida.” Yet as Lady Macbeth, during the “Sleepwalking Scene,” she could end the character’s haunting music with an ethereal final phrase capped by soft, shimmering high D-flat.

Shirley Verrett was born on May 31, 1931, in New Orleans, one of five children. Her parents were strict Seventh-day Adventists. Her father, who ran a construction company and moved the family to Los Angeles when Ms. Verrett was a young girl, was a decent man, Ms. Verrett recalled in her book, though he routinely punished his children by strapping them on the legs.
Her parents encouraged Ms. Verrett’s talent, but wanted her to pursue a concert career in the mold of Marian Anderson. They disapproved of opera. When they made their first trip to Europe in 1962 to hear their daughter sing the title role in “Carmen” at the Spoleto Festival, they “got down on their knees and prayed for forgiveness,” Ms. Verrett wrote.

In 1951, she married James Carter, who was 14 years her senior and proved a controlling and abusive husband. Ms. Verrett left that impulsive marriage when she discovered a gun under her husband’s pillow. During the first years of her career she was known as Shirley Verrett-Carter.
In 1963 she married Lou LoMonaco, an artist, who survives her, along with her daughter, who was adopted, and a granddaughter.

Her happy marriage came two years after she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, having studied at the Juilliard School. Carmen was the role of her 1968 Met debut. Other important roles with the Met included Azucena from Verdi’s “Trovatore,” Eboli from Verdi’s “Don Carlo” and Leonora in Donizetti’s “Favorita” in 1978, a new production mounted for Ms. Verrett and Pavarotti.

During the late 1970s and 1980s, Ms. Verrett had a close association with Sarah Caldwell, the conductor and stage director who ran the Opera Company of Boston, winning devoted fans among Boston opera buffs for her Aida, Norma, Tosca and other roles.
In 1981, in what was then a bold act of colorblind casting, Ms. Caldwell had Ms. Verrett sing Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello,” opposite the tenor James McCracken in the title role. Ms. Verrett’s skin color was only somewhat lightened to portray Desdemona. The intensity and vulnerability of her singing cut to the core of the character of the winsome, naïve Desdemona.
Ms. Verrett also sustained a lively rivalry with another black mezzo-soprano-turned-soprano, Grace Bumbry. In later years, she was a professor of voice at the University of Michigan.
In 1994, about to turn 63 and with opera well behind her, Ms. Verrett made her Broadway debut as Nettie Fowler in the Tony Award-winning production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” at Lincoln Center. Nettie’s defining moment comes when she sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which Ms. Verrett adapted for the title of her memoir.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Ring Cycle in Houston

Classicalify noticed this press release from Houston Grand Opera, a little late but still interesting.


Company's First Ring to be Co-Produced with Opera Australia

August 24, 2010 – HOUSTON TX Houston Grand Opera (HGO) today confirmed plans to coproduce a complete Ring cycle with Opera Australia, which will bring Wagner's complete Der Ring des Nibelungen to Houston for the first time in the company's history. Pending the successful conclusion of a fundraising campaign, the new production will be led by Australian director Neil Armfield – well known in Houston as well as in the US due to his work on HGO's ongoing series of productions of the operas of Benjamin Britten and to the success of Exit the King on Broadway – and conducted by the company's music director, Patrick Summers.
Anthony Freud, OBE, General Director and CEO of Houston Grand Opera, noted that Opera
Australia and HGO have collaborated on several important initiatives in recent seasons, including the acclaimed production of Peter Grimes which HGO presents as part of its 2010/11 season: "It is a thrill to work with Opera Australia on a groundbreaking new production of these important operas, and we look forward to bringing Houston Grand Opera's first-ever Ring to the stage," he said.

HGO will present the operas over the course of four seasons beginning in 2014, pending the
successful conclusion of its fundraising campaign. "Bringing the Ring to Houston for the first time is an important step for the company artistically and for our audience as well. It will require significant resources,” added Freud. “We are visiting with all of our stakeholders to ensure that we can take this step securely and that our mission to produce opera of the highest quality is fulfilled.”

“It is particularly gratifying to contemplate a Ring that brings together such a distinguished
director and our own music director, Patrick Summers,” Freud continued, adding that Summers's leadership and development of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra since joining the company in 1999 was one of the major factors in the decision to mount a Ring in Houston. Just last season, Summers conducted Lohengrin, the company's acclaimed first entrée into Wagnerian repertoire in a decade; reviewing the performance in Opera News, critic Gregory Barnett stated, “Under Summers's ever-alert and sensitive direction, the eighty-piece Orchestra – at times commenting with crispness and agility, at times shaking the walls with sweeping, transcendent climaxes – took its rightful place beside the singers as a narrative instrument...(and) the Houston audience could bask in Wagner's orchestral detail without losing a note of the singing.”
Summers and Armfield have collaborated on all of the company's Britten operas, most recently
on an acclaimed production of The Turn of the Screw (2010), and will join forces for Peter Grimes this season. The Ring cycle marks Armfield's first encounter as director with the operas of Richard Wagner.

Casting for the Ring operas has not yet been announced. They will be performed at Houston
Grand Opera over the course of four seasons, as follows: 2014 - Das Rheingold; 2015 - Die Walküre; 2016 - Siegfried; and 2017 - Götterdämmerung.

About the Ring
German composer Richard Wagner composed the Ring as a series of four operas based loosely on stories from Norse mythology. Although Wagner is renowned for his many other operatic works including Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde and Der Fliegende Holländer, the Ring Operas are by far his best-known works and took nearly thirty years to develop. In all the Ring Operas span 15 hours of live opera.

Neil Armfield made his HGO debut in 2008 directing Britten’s Billy Budd and his most recent credit here is The Turn of the Screw, a production that originated at Opera Australia and has also been seen at Brisbane Opera. His critically-acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream had its premiere here in 2009 starring Laura Claycomb; it has since been seen at Canadian Opera Company, and will be presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago this season. Among his numerous Britten opera credits include Billy Budd at Opera Australia, English National Opera, Canadian Opera Company and Welsh National Opera—his production of that opera won won a Barclay’s Award and six Dora Mavor Awards. Further opera credits include a new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for West Australian Opera and the world premiere opera Bliss by Brett Dean, at Opera Australia in Melbourne and Sydney, and at
the Edinburgh Festival. Mr. Armfield is an accomplished theater director, having recently directed Ionesco’s Exit the King on Broadway to critical acclaim. He has directed for all of Australia’s state theatre companies and for international opera companies such as Welsh National Opera, Zurich Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Mr. Armfield holds the title Officer of the Order of Australia, which he was given for his service to the arts. Further awards and honors include six Helpmann Awards at Dublin International Festival of the Arts for Cloudstreet and multiple Green Room Awards and Sydney Critics’ Circle Awards in the category of best director. Mr. Armfield is Artistic Director of Company B at the Belvoire Theatre in Surry Hills, Australia, where his most recent new production is the world premiere of Tommy Murphy’s play Gwen in Purgatory, a collaboration with La Boite Theatre Company. His production of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos was presented by Boston Lyric Opera last spring, and will be seen at both Welsh National Opera and Canadian Opera Company this season.

Patrick Summers made an acclaimed company debut in 1999 conducting Verdi’s La traviata
and has since conducted more than thirty operas here, including Wagner’s Lohengrin last fall and
Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Puccini’s Tosca last winter. His HGO world premieres include Brief Encounter by André Previn; Three Decembers (Last Acts) and The End of the Affair by Jake Heggie; The Refuge by Christopher Theofanidis; and Resurrection by Todd Machover. Maestro Summers also led the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree, which is available on CD from Albany Records. He recently conducted the world premieres of Moravec’s The Letter at the Santa Fe Opera and Heggie’s Moby Dick at the Dallas Opera, to great acclaim. His diverse credits at the Metropolitan Opera include Salome and Madama Butterfly. Other highlights include A Streetcar Named Desire, Ariodante and Three Decembers (Last Acts) at San Francisco Opera, where he has been appointed principal guest conductor; La Cenerentola at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; and Verdi’s Nabucco and Puccini’s Turandot with Opera Australia. Maestro Summers led the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s on Renée Fleming’s Grammy Award-winning solo recording Bel Canto, available from Decca.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Gluck's "Armida" in Berlin

If you didn't see it in spring 2009, well take your chance now to see baroque opera turned in to a sexy mess... !!! Komische Oper Berlin is tha place ! Performances from November 10 - December 18.

We recommend the performance from ages 16 and up.
Debut performance 1777 - Premiere on 5 April 2009

That lovers have to overcome horrible obstacles in the opera and that the power of love prevails against all reason sounds familiar to us. But what happens, when the heart's enemy consists of the own fear, the fear to lose control and the fear of one's own abysms? Beautiful Armida, blessed with infernal magic powers, has immobilised the armada of the enemy crusaders. Only Rinaldo, the keenest Christian hero has resisted. Torn between fascination and fury, Armida vows vengeance. However, when she finally captures Rinaldo, she cannot kill him. Blinded by shame for her own weakness, she calls her demons to send Rinaldo to »the end of the world«. Armida appeals deeply that ›hate‹, liberates her from her love but finally she has to surrender to the strange feelings. After a short period of common happiness the curse of ›hate‹ comes true: Rinaldo, gripped by ambition, leaves Armida to devote himself again to typically male duties. Gluck presents love as a feeling between self-abandonment and self-fulfilment, embedded in a highly thrilling psychological drama with stunning dramatics and delicate musical mood swings. After »Iphigenie on Tauris«, we present Gluck's 5th reform opera and its wrongly neglected composer. »I admit that I would love to finish my career with this opera«, wrote Gluck. Thanks God he did not do so.

Heroic Drama in five acts by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Libretto by Philippe Quinault
German text version by Bettina Bartz and Werner Hintze
Resumption Wednesday, 10.11.2010, 19:30
Tickets 10 - 62 €
Recommended from 16 years and up
2 hours 45 minutes
Introduction ... 30 minutes before the beginning of the performance, Foyer
Musical direction ... Konrad Junghänel
Staging ... Calixto Bieito
Stage designer ... Rebecca Ringst
Costumes ... Ingo Krügler
Dramaturgy ... Bettina Auer
Choir ... André Kellinghaus
Light ... Franck Evin
Armida ... Elena Semenova
Hidraot ... Carsten Sabrowski
Der Mann mit der Schlange ... Norman Shankle
Artemidoro ... Christoph Schröter
Ubaldo ... Günter Papendell
Der dänische Ritter ... Thomas Ebenstein
Phénice ... Annelie Sophie Müller
Sidonie ... Julia Giebel
Aronte ... Hans-Peter Scheidegger
Der Hass ... Karolina Gumos
Ein Dämon in Gestalt der Melissa ... Anna Borchers
Der Mann mit der Schlange ... Carsten Wykrota

Friday, 29 October 2010

Gustav Mahler symphony nr 2. Berliner Philharmonie.

Berlin Philharmonics
Sir Simon Rattle conductor
Kate Royal Soprano
Magdalena Kozena Mezzo soprano
Berlin Radio Choir

Arnold Schönberg "A survivor from Warsaw"
for narrator, male chorus and orchestra.
Hanns Zichler narrator

Gustav Mahler symphony nr 2 c-minor. "Auferstehung"
For big orchestra, choir and soloists.

"A survivor from Warsaw" is a dramatic piece written by Schönberg in 1947.
The initial inspiration came from the Russian dancer Corinne Chochem to pay tribute to the jewish victims in the holocaust. They desided to work on the piece together. But it didn't work.
So Schönberg wrote the piece on his own.
The narration depicts a story of a survivor from Warsaw during the second world war. He doesn't remember how he ended up living in the sewers.
He tells the story of how SS soldiers held a roll call group of jews. How the old and young prisoners were beaten beacuse they didn't round up quickly enough.
Six minutes of drama that ends with the words from Deuteronomy 6:7 "and when thou liest down, and when thou riseth up".
Immediatly after six minutes the next piece began just 3 seconds after the last note.
Mahlers second symphony works well together with Schönberg.

Classicalify has heard this symphony live before. But not like this.
Mahler is very special in many ways. He tells the conductor what to do and not to do.
Simon Rattle knows this symphony by heart. It was a performance entirely as Mahler would have wanted it. Everything is here. The fierce tempo and the sound of fire in the first movement that makes you jump almost. A funeral march with people going through different moods.
Second movement ( Andante) is the remembrance of joyful times in the life of a deceased.
The third and fourth movement "Urlicht" are from Das Knaben Wunderhorn.
The fourth movement sung by Magdalena Kozena wife of the conductor, had all the right notes but there was something missing. Classicalify has heard Anna Larsson twice singing this symphony and Anna is just the best. Kozena is to light.
Kate Royal is wonderful in the soprano parts and Classicalify hope to hear her soon again.
The last movement is the longest but worth waiting for. The text is from Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock " Arise again". Telling us that what has died will arise and bring us closer to god.
It is a symphony worth hearing many times. And the Berlin Philharmonic is one of the best orchestras today. Go to Berlin and hear them. It's worth it.

Valencia Rheingold on Swedish TV

The famous Valencia Ring with Swedish Anna Larsson as Fricka will be shown on Swedish TV (SVT2) on Saturday Oct 30. Starting time is 20.00. Zubin Mehta is conducting.

Don't miss it!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Claudio Abbado, Gold Medal of the Circulo de Bellas Artes

Classicalifys favorite conductor Claudio Abbado has recieved the gold medal of Circulo de Belllas Artes. Claudio is on tour with Lucerne Festival Orchestra performing Gustav Mahlers symphony nr 9. In a ceremony presided by the mayor of Madrid Alberto Ruiz Gallardon.
The medal was given by the president of Circulo de Bellas Artes Juan Miguel Hérnandez de Léon
with the following words:
"A guardian angel for young muscians and for being a commited and innovative director".

Abbado has said the "most important thing for young people starting out in this profession is to "make music together".

Attending the ceremony was also the six spanish musicians from LFO.
One of them José Vincente Castello said: "Abbado is able to pass on, to share his joy of music, is a dream come true working for him".

Monday, 18 October 2010

Classicalify goes to London

(Catriona Smith sings Zenobia at Southbank and Cristine Rice performs at ENO.)

One of the great joys in life is the British Empire and it's capital... Where can you see so much good opera and listen to so many good singers at the same time? This week Classicalify is heading to London for two performances, Handel's "Radamisto" at ENO and the Opera Rara concert of Rossini's "Aureliano in Palmira" at Southbank. ENO's Handel productions tend to be among the best in the world and always get great reviews, so also "Radamisto". The Guardian gave it four stars. Classicalify is really looking forward to it. You find the review here:

Usually Opera Rara's performances are of very good quality, and it seems they will not disappoint us with this unusual Rossini opera, the cast is very promising:

Gioachino Rossini: Aureliano in Palmira - opera in 2 acts
(Concert performance in Italian with English surtitles)
Maurizio Benini - conductor
Catriona Smith - Zenobia
Silvia Tro Santafé - Arsace
Kenneth Tarver - Aureliano
Andrew Foster-Williams - Gran Sacerdote
Vuyani Mlinde - Licinio
Ezgi Kutlu - Publia
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
A concert performance of Rossini's charming opera Aureliano in Palmira.
Read more and book tickets here:

Thursday, 14 October 2010

New releases by beauty boy JDF.

One of our favourites, beauty boy Juan Diego, is releasing new exciting material all the time... Find out more on his homepage or the DECCA page:

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Stressed Artists.

Stress and exhaustion is a very dangerous combination. Even conductors are stressed.
Riccardo Muti was supposed to have conducted the opening season in Chicago but canceled and went to Italy to meet with his doctors. He has now been ordered complete rest for a month.
He will be resting in Ravenna.
" I very much appreciate the outpouring of well wishes and support from the members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra family and residents of my new musical home, Chicago and I look forward to my return"
Muti is not alone to exhaustion and stress.
One of Classicalifys favorite maestros Claudio Abbado was in hospital in Berlin in May due to stress. But has now recovered after a long restful summer. He was in good form in Lucerne as you can read from our reports from the summer festival.
Janine Jansen the famous violin soloist was ordered complete rest due to exhaustion.
And according to her website nothing is canceled in the coming months.
Stress is not good for music.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Die Stemme singt nicht Rusalka in Munich.

Aktuelle Umbesetzung: Titelpartie Rusalka

In der Neuproduktion von Antonin Dvořáks Rusalka (Vorstellungen am 23., 26., 28., 31. Oktober und 4. November 2010) wird Kristīne Opolais die Titelpartie anstelle von Nina Stemme übernehmen. Frau Stemme sieht sich aufgrund ihrer stimmlichen Weiterentwicklung seit Unterschrift des Vertrages leider nicht mehr in der Lage, Repertoire wie Rusalka zu singen, was sie sehr bedauert. Kristīne Opolais gibt mit dieser Partie unter der Musikalischen Leitung von Tomáš Hanus und der Regie von Martin Kušej ihr Debüt an der Bayerischen Staatsoper.Kristīne Opolais wurde in Lettland geboren und studierte Gesang an der dortigen Musikakademie sowie bei Margreet Honig in Amsterdam. Von 2003 bis 2007 war sie Ensemblemitglied an der Lettischen Nationaloper in Riga. 2006 folgte ihr Debüt als Tosca an der Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin. Weitere Stationen ihrer Karriere führten sie an die Mailänder Scala, die Wiener Staatsoper, an die Opéra de Lyon sowie an das Teatro Regio in Turin. Außerdem war sie bei renommierten Festivals wie den Salzburger Festspielen oder in Aix-en-Provence zu Gast. Ihr Opernrepertoire umfasst u.a. Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Gräfin Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Violetta Valéry (La traviata), Lisa (Pique Dame), Liù (Turandot), Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly). Im Konzert war sie mit Werken von u.a. Mozart, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Mahler und Britten zu erleben. Debüt an der Bayerischen Staatsoper in der Spielzeit 2010/11: Titelpartie Rusalka.

Joan Sutherland 1926-2010

A sad day in the world of opera. Dame Joan Sutherland has passed away.
She died earlier today in her home in Switzerland. She was 83.
Her family has said that she died peacefully in her sleep.
One of the last legends in opera is no more.
She leaves a long legacy of recordings and performances behind.
Classicalify has many of them. She sang 256 performances of 23 roles in Sidney.
She did her first concert in Sidney 1947 as Dido by Purcell.
In 1950 she won the prestigious Mobil Quest award that gave her a name.
She made her London debut at the Royal Opera in Mozarts The Magic Flute two years later as the first lady. She auditioned three times. In 1954 she sang Countess Almviva in The Marriage of Figaro also by Mozart. The critics got their eye on her.
She sang Donizetti, Mozart,Bellini and a lot more.
She is famous for singing along with Pavarotti in Donizettis La fillé du Regimant which marked his debut in London. Dame Joan is survived by husband Richard Bonynge, son Adam and grandchildren.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Composer Wagner’s kin scraps Israel visit

Katharina Wagner cancels her trip to Israel due to criticism about her relation to Richard Wagner. There is no question that Richard Wagner still is controversial even today.

She was invited by Austrian Jewish conductor Roberto Paternostro to ask the Israel Chamber Orchestra to perform at next years Bayreuth Festival.
The invitation was meant as an act of reconciliation between the Wagner Family and Israel.
The visit was kept secret from the media for a year, but was leaked and has recieved mix reactions both in Israel and abroad. The orchestra will still perform in Bayreuth.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Adriana Lecouvreur

Some of us here at Classicalify were booked for the event of the year in Berlin, Cilea´s "Adriana Lecouvreur", starring Angela Gheorghiu and hunk Jonas Kaufmann. Sorry to say Classicalify couldn't go to Berlin!
BUT we are now happy to announce that we got a new chance when Royal Opera House Covent Garden stage this in November. Today booking started and Classicalify was lucky to get the last ticket "up by the gods" (Amphitheatre).
In Berlin they gave two concert performances, in London it will be a full stage production!
ARE we lucky or not?
Of course we suspect La Gheorghiu will withdraw (as usual), but what the hell, if Jonas is singing it's more than worth it!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Bartoli new releases in October

The magnificent Bartoli has two releases coming in October. The wonderful and funny "Clari" by Halévy from Opernhaus Zürich some years ago is now (finally) being released. Classicalify saw the performance in Zürich and was pleased to hear and see La Ceci. She is much loved in Zürich and was applauded as soon as she entered on stage. We are looking forward to experience it again, now on DVD.
If you can't get enough of Bartoli, also buy the new CD, "Sospiri".

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mira Bartov fortsätter sin karriär utomlands

Classicalify hear that Mira Bartov, promising young director and artistic boss at the Folkoperan in Stockholm will go on with her international career. She ends her employment in Stockholm in June 2011.

Read the press info from Folkoperan here (in Swedish):

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Bill Viola's video Tristan und Isolde

The Tsunami Tristan, first produced in Paris 2005 is now touring around Europe in a semi-staged version. Last seen at Royal Festival Hall, London, and before that in Birmingham. Classicalify was in Paris 2005 and did NOT like the production then. This time Classicalify was in London.
The Bill Viola video was lousy then and is lousy now. It has nothing to do with the action of the opera, and banning the performance for under-14's due to nude scenes is just silly.

In 2005 Isolde was sung by Lisa Gasteen, now it's Violeta Urmana, Brangäne was in 2005 Ekaterina Gubanova and is now Anne Sofie von Otter and Tristan is now Gary Lehman instead of Clifton Forbis 2005.

Both Gubanova and von Otter will be remembered by Classicalify as well as Gary Lehman as Tristan. In Paris Valery Gergiev was conducting and in London 2010 it was Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Here is the review from The Guardian (Birmingham):

"First seen at the Paris Opéra in 2005, Peter Sellars and Bill Viola's production of Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, has since morphed into a concert-hall performance: the drama plays out in a spare semi-staging, with Viola's original video art retained as the backdrop. That's how it has now reached the UK, for two performances with the Philharmonia, the first in Birmingham.

Sellars had added a few site-specific tweaks, making regular use of Symphony Hall's balconies to enfold the audience in the drama. On stage, a single rectangular box serves as a bench for the lovers' moonings in the second act and as a bier for the dying Tristan in the third. It's Viola's videos that dominate visually, though, offering a parallel thread through Wagner's music drama that emphasises its links with Buddhist and Hindu sources. Some of the images are compelling, but they become more trite as the work goes on, and the final moments, when Isolde's Liebestod is counterpointed by a body borne up through water on a mass of bubbles, look for all the world like an advert for denture cleaner.

Musically, though, everything was first class. Salonen's conducting was exceptional, not for its sense of line or febrile intensity, but for calm, almost nonchalant authority and musical clarity, combined with wonderfully sculpted playing from the Philharmonia. Gary Lehman and Violeta Urmana were not the most vocally alluring Tristan and Isolde, but in two taxing roles they were unfailingly secure and tirelessly confident. Anne Sofie von Otter contributed a elegant, calm Brangäne, Jukka Rasilainen a sturdy, forthright Kurwenal, and Matthew Best a noble and eloquent King Marke, his second-act monologue arguably the emotional fulcrum of the whole performance."
Andrew Clements

First Listen: Vittorio Grigolo's 'The Italian Tenor'

From NPR you can now listen to Vittorio Grigolo's latest CD:

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Stockholm vs Malmö

This article was found in a local newspaper in Skåneland, Sweden. There is still hope for old dinosaurs!

Han blir ny chefsdramaturg på Malmö Opera


Han ska vara limmet mellan scenen och ledningen, ögat bakom regissören, armen ut till publiken och samhället. Stefan Johansson lämnar Kungliga Operan i Stockholm för att bli chefsdramaturg och chefsregissör på Malmö Opera.

- Spännande, sammanfattar han känslan inför nya jobbet som han tillträder 1 januari 2011.
Malmö Opera har fått ökade resurser och ska göra 50 procent mer föreställningar. Något som gör att teaterchefen Bengt Hall behöver hjälp och förstärkning. Den givne personen att vända sig till blev Stefan Johansson, som arbetat tillsammans med Bengt Hall under dennes tid på operan i Stockholm, där de tillsammans byggt upp ett dramaturgiat. Nu väntar samma uppgift i Malmö. Det handlar inte om att återinföra delat chefskap. Bengt Hall är som vd fortsatt den som har yttersta ansvaret. Stefan Johanssons tjänst löper parallellt med hans tjänstetid, men ett halvår längre, fram till mitten av 2013, för att man ska få kontinuitet i organisationen.

Som 20-åring startade Stefan Johansson Teater 9, som fanns kvar till 1991 och spelade i stora delar av Europa och i Latinamerika. Han var med om att göra den första stora teaterfestivalen i Sverige, jobbade på radio med kulturinslag och blev så småningom chef för Radioteatern. Tidigare har han regisserat ett 50-tal scenproduktioner, senast Nibelungens ring i Dalhalla. Sedan 13 år tillbaka är han chefsdramaturg på Kungliga Operan.Operaintresset har alltid funnits där, trots att Stefan Johansson växte upp i en miljö där man inte lyssnade på opera.

– När mamma frågade mig om jag ville ha en cykel en födelsedag sa jag att jag ville gå på operan i stället. Jag såg Parsifal och jag var fast och ville gå dit så mycket som möjligt. Ibland var en Wagneropera min barnvakt medan mamma sprang ut på något extra städjobb. Stefan Johansson hade också två mostrar som jobbade hos Karl Gerhard och Povel Ramel och han satt ofta bakom scenen eller i logen när mostrarna skulle in och dansa.

– Där fick jag grunden till populärkultur med hög nivå, säger han och tillägger inför sin nya uppgift i Malmö:– Jag inser att det måste finnas bredd, men man måste tillåta sig djup också. Det måste vara balans. Stefan Johansson poängterar att han stortrivts på Kungliga Operan, speciellt under nuvarande chefen Birgitta Svendén och att han planerat att stanna där till pensionen.

– Men när Bengt Hall hörde av sig och vi började prata om uppgiften i Malmö och jag insåg att den inte handlade om att vara konstnärlig ledare under styrelsen, inte om personaladministration och annat som jag inte vill ägna mig åt, intresserade den här möjligheten i Malmö mig mer. Sju nya produktioner per säsong i stället för några nya och en mängd repriser, inte så strikta ramar som de en nationalscen måste hålla sig till, var något av lockelsen. Att åter få åta sig regiuppdrag var en annan del.

– Här handlar det om att spetsa till sig, göra publika saker, att profilera sig mot Köpenhamn, Stockholm och Göteborg. Jag funderar ofta på om Malmö och dess kulturutbud ligger långt från Stockholm eller nära kontinenten. Jag brukar fråga folk vad de tycker om det.

Är Malmö en håla eller porten utåt?Stefan Johansson har följt teaterlivet i Malmö på nära håll och har sett många produktioner på stora scenen. Dead man walking, Prinsessan från Cypern, Flickan från Vilda Västern är några han nämner. Och han har redan börjat fundera på vad man kan plocka ur Skåne.

– Det här är ju Birgit Nilssons landskap. Var är Birgit Nilsson-festivalen? Det är väl en fråga värd att väcka, säger han.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Dalyaman's Elektra shown in cinemas in Sweden

Royal Opera, Stockholm, is high tech and allow people in good old Sweden to watch Strauss' 100-minutes-operagasm "Elektra" in cinemas all over the country, Saturday 11 September at 19.30.

In the following cities you can get your cinema-live-orgasm-experience:

Alingsås, Anderslöv, Arboga, Bengtsfors, Boden, Boxholm, Bureå, Båstad, Falun, Filipstad, Gnesta, Gusum, Göteborg, Hagfors, Hallunda (Botkyrka), Heby, Helsingborg, Iggesund, Kallhäll (Järfälla), Karlskoga, Katrineholm, Krokstrand, Kumla, Kungsbacka, Köping, Lammhult, Lidköping, Lilla Edet, Lund, Lysekil, Malmö, Mörrum, Norrköping, Nyköpings, Nynäshamn, Osby, Piteå, Sigtuna, Skelleftehamn, Skoghall, Skärhamn, Smedjebacken, Spånga, Stenungsund, Strängnäs, Svalöv, Tomelilla, Torslanda, Tumba, Ulricehamn, Varberg, Visby, Vänersborg, Västerås, Ystad, Åseda och Älmhult.


Klytaimnestra: Marianne Eklöf
Elektra: Katarina Dalayman
Chrysothemis: Emma Vetter
Aigisthos: Magnus Kyhle
Orestes: Marcus Jupither
Uppfostraren: Mikael Magnell
Den förtrogna: Agneta Lundgren
Släpbärerskan: Barbro Hillerud
En ung tjänare: Thomas Annmo
En gammal tjänare: Thomas Bergström
Vakterskan: Angela Rotondo
5 Tjänarinnor: Kristina Martling/Annica Nilsson/Katarina Leoson/Monika Mannerström Skog/Madeleine Barringer

Procuction is by Staffan Valdemar Holm and his wife Bente Lykke Möller

When you see the castlist, you do wonder if they NEVER retire in Stockholm... During the last run in Stockholm Dalayman sang a couple of the scheduled performances, she cancelled quite a lot, so be prepared for replacement!
About the story it says "It's an emotional highway of blood and catastrophy and the speed is on top from the beginning till the end".

Saturday, 4 September 2010

New CD with Swedish tenor

Swedish young tenor, Leif Aruhn-Solén, who is known for his good baroque interpretations, has now released a CD in USA. Togehter with conductor Predrag Gosta and New Trinity Baroque he sings arias from several Handel operas and oratorios.

"Victory and defeat, hope and despair, love and hate. In the operas and oratorios by George Frideric Handel, all aspects of life are explored. Spotlighting tenor Leif Aruhn-Solén, New Trinity Baroque present arias in an intimate chamber music setting."

You can download it from iYunes, Instantencore and if you want the real CD, buy it from cdbaby.

1. Tamerlano, HWV 18: Forte e lieto
2. Tamerlano, HWV 18: Empio, per farti guerra
3. Acis & Galatea, HWV 49: Love in her eyes
4. Samson, HWV 57: Total eclipse
5. Semele, HWV 58: Where’er you walk
6. Athalia, HWV 52: Gentle airs, melodious strains
7. Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: The enemy said
8. Jephtha, HWV 70: Waft her, angels, through the skies
9. Partenope, HWV 27: La gloria in nobil alma
10. Messiah, HWV 56: Comfort ye / Ev'ry valley
11. Trio Sonata in G minor, HWV 393: I. Andante
12. Trio Sonata in G minor, HWV 393: II. Allegro
13. Trio Sonata in G minor, HWV 393: III. Largo
14. Trio Sonata in G minor, HWV 393: IV. Allegro

Thursday, 2 September 2010


As Classicalify is always on the run, there is not always time to write our own reviews. So here we give you the Berlingske Tidene's review of Jonas Kaufmann's Royal concert in Copenhagen a couple of days ago. The concert was an hounor to Queen Ingrid who should have been 100 years 2010. Her daughters, Queen Margrethe, Princesse Benedikte and Queen Ann-Marie, were present with several of other royalties. But the KING tonight was Jonas Kaufmann!

Kendte, kongelige og en koncertsal af glade musikelskere fejrede hundredåret for Dronning Ingrids fødsel med selveste Jonas Kaufmann for fuld udånding.

Af Søren SchauserOnsdag den 1. september 2010, 22:30
For han kom sørme.
Jonas Kaufmann meldte ellers fra til en opera i det sydtyske i sidste uge.
Hans profil på Facebook meldte faktisk om forkølelse så sent som fredag middag.
Men folk kunne jo altid tage til Berlin og se en kæmpeplakat af ham i stedet, skrev han!
Jo tak. Så længe han ikke ville gentage den dumme dobbeltfejl forleden - det dumme drama med en syg Rolando Villazón i første akt og et vrangvilligt Tivoli i andet.
Manden kom altså. Og han gav landets kongefamilie, kendteste skibsreder, fremmeste indehavere af kors og bånd og stjerner plus alle os andre en uforglemmelig oplevelse.
Well, well. Man skal først have spændt forventningerne lidt op og høre lidt på Tivolis orkester sådan en aften. Det skal man næsten altid. Fint nok. Også selv om aftenens dirigent ikke er den fødte dramatiker: Hvis en koncert skal drøjes med underholdende toner, skal de lyde underholdende. Selv det varme udvalg af musik fra Carmen bliver kedsomt.
Men verden forvandler sig lige for øjnene og ørerne af den spændte sal. Stjernen viser sig foran orkestret:
Jonas Kaufmann! Tysk tenor på 41 somre. Begavet med et godt hoved og det helt rigtige udseende.
Og nej: Ikke med den sædvanlige komet foran karrieren. Kaufmann har arbejdet sig op langsomt og passet på sin stemme. Han kan synge to en halv time uden antydning af tudser i talerøret - takket være en stensikker teknik i struben.
At kalde ham en klassisk førsteelsker er for resten heller ikke helt retfærdigt. For han er meget mere den aften. Manden synger sig helt ind i både kenderes og ikkekenderes hjerter - takket være et lige så stensikkert og desværre halvglemt fænomen ved navn smag.
Dygtig til både og
Alle bliver fanget af hans stemme fra første sekund. Om den lyder som på hans plader? Den er om muligt mørkere i virkeligheden. Han kan godt brøle alle de høje tenortoner ud, hvis han vil. Men han er mindst lige så fantastisk i mezza voce, som man siger - altså i melodier med tyste virkninger, med tale, med hvisken. Dét kan Villazón for eksempel ikke prale ad længere.
Tag nu aftenens nummer tre: Den skønne arie fra tårnet i Tosca. Komponisten bag var fantastisk til at gøre sine melodier en smule for korte. Eftertiden er nødt til at høre dem igen og igen. Men hvad får Kaufmann ikke ud af de få minutter! Han synger hult det ene sekund og spidst det næste. Lyder som en bassanger det ene øjeblik og en falsetsanger det næste.
Det er ikke bare bevægende. Det er helt overrumplende. Og han overdriver ikke engang showet omkring sig. Han underspiller det snarere, laver afværgende håndtegn, antyder en selvironi i sit smil.
Alt sammen på italiensk, selvfølgelig. Enkelte savner måske nok lidt bund under lagkagen efterhånden. Lidt fransk flair for ordet og tysk tæft for alvoren. Men det kommer alt sammen. Og det er her, man rigtig mærker hans kunst. Her efter pausen: Carmen som højdepunkt
En af de store sange fra Carmen ender som aftenens højdepunkt. På grund af hans langsomme byggen op, hans uendelige variationer nede i halsen, hans spil mellem lukket mund og åben mund. Den slags gør en kæmpe forskel. At han så ikke har den store stemme nede i bunden, tager man bare med.
Den skønne »In fernem Land« fra Lohengrin af Wagner føles endda som at komme hjem. For ham som tysker. For os som alvorsfolk. Symfoniorkestret lyder endda som et helt operaorkester efterhånden!
Tivolis koncertsal vil ikke slippe ham. Aftenen er langt fra forbi endnu. Kaufmann giver hele fire ekstranumre, endda fire af tenorernes største hits - selv »La donna è mobile«.
Og sådan får alt pludselig en ende. Ak.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Stenhammar's "Tirfing" to be played in Malmö

Malmö Opera in the south of Sweden had planned to play Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar's wagneresque opera "Tirfing" this season. But, due to hard economic problems, the theatre instead decided to play the musical "Singing in the rain", a huge hit in Stockholm.

But... a close source to Classicalify now confirms "Tirfing" will be played next season, 2011-2012. As the source is also going to sing one of the roles, Calssicalify judge the roumor as true.

About Stenhammar on Wikipedia:

Stenhammar was born in Stockholm, where he received his first musical education. He then went to Berlin to further his studies in music. He became a glowing admirer of German music, particularly that of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner. Stenhammar himself described the style of his First Symphony in F major as "idyllic Bruckner". He subsequently sought to emancipate himself and write in a more "Nordic" style, looking to Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius for guidance. The latter's Symphony No. 2, especially, had a great effect on him, leading him to change his style and refuse to refer to his First Symphony as anything but a trivial piece.
From 1906 to 1922 he was Artistic Director and chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, the first full-time professional orchestra in Sweden. In this capacity, he organized many performances of music by contemporary Scandinavian composers. Briefly, in 1909, he held the position of director of music at Uppsala University, where he was succeeded in the following year by Hugo Alfvén.
Wilhelm Stenhammar died of a stroke at 56 years of age in Jonsered in the historic province of Västergötland. He is buried in Gothenburg.

Gustav Mahler Symphony Nr 9.

Gustav Mahler Symphony Nr 9
Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Claudio Abbado

Gustav Mahler is inescapable in this, the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Next year is the anniversary of his death and more Mahler to come. I doubt if either year will produce a performance like the one Classicalify heard recently with Abbado and his hand-picked festival orchestra. The first movement is notable for crises. Abbado mantained a steady stream in the great build-ups and expertly avoided losing momentum. The second movement was held within a regular pulse and with fierce accents. Producing sophisticated and coarse sounds.

In the third Abbado highlighted the contrast between earthly parody and the glimpses of heaven provided by the solo trumpet, and brought the movement to thrilling conclusion.

The last movement was played with richness and transparancy. The lush passages was filled with a powerfull brass-section. As the violins slowly winded down towards the end I had tears running down my face and could hear my own heartbeats. As the final note was whispered with such feeling and tendernes there was a silence in the audience I have never experienced before.

It was total silence for three minutes and then the applause started. It was twenty minutes of standing ovation. An amazing evening.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Swedish gay actor to play Maria Callas

Classicalify came upon this information about a new play in Stockholm, Sweden, of the life of La Divina - Maria Callas. The Swedish gay actor Rikard Wolff is to play Maria and opening night is on December 11, at the Stadsteatern in Stockholm.

Here is the information in Swedish given on the theater's internetpage:

Sen kväll i Paris. Åren har gått, rösten är borta, Onassis har gift sig med Jackie.En gång var hon en tjock oälskad flicka i Brooklyn.Det var innan hon skapade sin röst och sin nya kropp och blev gudinnan Callas. Vem var det?Och vem är hon nu?En människa utan röst.Men med en vacker vit kappa från Biki.

Av: Lucas Svensson
Regi och ljus: Linus Fellbom
Scenografi: Lars Östbergh
Kostym: Camilla Thulin
Mask: Kjerstin Elg
Ljud: Terese Johansson

Tickets are on sale and the show is played until the end of January 2011.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Lucerne Festival. Lieder Recital 1

Lieder Recital 1
Thomas Quasthoff baryton
Helene Grimaud piano
Robert Schumann: Dichterliebe
Johannes Brahms: Nine lieder and songs and Opus 94:Five songs.
Thomas Quasthoff is the best lieder singer of our time.
He is one of many singers who keeps the tradition of lieder alive. Yesterday at the first lieder concert of the Lucerne Festival he showed just beautiful lieder singing is.
At the piano was Helene Grimaud who has now slowly returned to the concert stage after
a long absence due to illnes. The first act contained lieder by Schumann. The famous Dichterliebe (Poems of love). A series of songs from Schumanns favorite poet Heinrich Heine.
Quasthoff sang with such beauty and longing that time and space doesn't excist.
Grimaud how ever seemed not to have warmed up before the concert.
She didn't play the wrong notes, she didn't reflect what Quasthoff was singing.
Brahms was followed after the interval. Nine lieder and songs. Quasthoff opened the second act by saying "that he and Grimaud felt the concert was a little short" so they desided to perform five songs more by Brahms which we audience didn't object to. This time Grimaud sounded much better. Why does she always play better after a interval or on a second concert??.
Quasthoff spoke to us again before the encore. He joked about the microphone not working.
"-Hallo,We have a small technical problem". He desided to speak whitout. He informed us not to cough and that the KKL staff would be collecting money for the catastrophe in Pakistan. Classicalify of course made a donation. Quasthoff and Grimaud did too.
A standing ovation was given to Quasthoff after the concert.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lucerne Festival. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Andris Nelsons
Percussion Martin Grubinger
Richard Wagner: Prelude from Lohengrin
Avner Dorman: Frozen in Time. Concerto for percussion and orchestra.
Tchaikovsky: Symphony nr 6

The Lucerne Festival is a world stage and all the best orchestras in the world are here.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is one.
A very good orchestra with great sound and colour.

They looked very relaxed and controlled apart from the conductor Andris Nelsons who realy was high on emotions.

The concert opened with the prelude from Wagners Lohengrin which Nelsons has conducted at this years Bayreuth Festival.
This was followed by Dormans Frozen in Time with soloist Martin Grubinger.
This is the first time I ever heard a piece by Donmar.

It was amazing. The title helps to describe it.

Images of snow and ice comes to mind and the sound of composers such as Stravinsky and Mozart is there. Martin Grubinger realy is an electric performer who realy knows how to thrill his audience.

He can play 1,400 beats a minute. This piece is composed for Grubinger and I can't imagine anyone else performing it. He performed a solo drum for encore. Balancing a drumstick on his arm. If you ever get the chance to see him live. Do it.
The concert ended with Tchaikovskys symphony nr 6. A standard piece performed often.

But hearing it with this orchestra was hearing for the first time. Nelsons of course showed colours of emotions in his body to the orchestra. For me it was a bit over the top but the orchestra toned the emotions down. That made it a breathtaking performance.

This symphony is not like the fifth which ends in truimph. The sixth ends in sadnes.
A lost love perhaps of the composer. The orchestra ended the evening with an encore. Intermezzo from Puccinis Manon Lescaut.