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