Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hans Werner Henze 1926-2012

The composer Hans Werner Henze has died at the age of 86 in Dresden. He wrote more than 40 operas, 10 symphonies and chamber music. Soloists such as Dietrich Fischer- Dieskau, Elisabeth Söderström admired him and performed his music. May his music live on.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Claudio Abbado returns to La Scala

"If I do a speech? No, I speak through music". Those are words of Claudio Abbado about his return to La Scala  next week on tuesday the 30th of october. He was once the music director of the La Scala orchestra from 1968 to 1986 and said goodbye to La Scala never to return again. That is until now.
His return was meant to be two years ago in the summer of 2010 but due to illness it was cancelled.
He was to have conducted Mahlers second symphony. On tuesday he will conduct Mahler sixth.
He had also come with a requirement to the  mayor of Milan to plant half a million trees in the city center.
That will still happen. The concert on  tuesday features also Chopins first piano concerto with Daniel Barenboim as soloist. The La scala orchestra will perform together with members of orchestra Mozart. One of Claudios own orchestras.

You can read the full interview with Claudio here:

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Bartok, Eötvös, Ligeti.

Today, nobody is missing spotify on their computer or iPhone.
What's great about Spotify is that you will also have recommendations and listening tips. Today when I logged in, I found a recording of Bela Bartok's violin concert and also the music of Ligeti and Eötvös.

Bartok wrote his second violin concerto to his friend Zoltán Székely who asked Bartok to write concerto in three movements instead of one that Bartok himself wanted.
It is written in Verbunkos style. Verbunkos is a Hungarian dance and music style from the 1800s. It is characterized by virtuosic fast passages and characteristic rythm points.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja plays with technical perfection and with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Peter Eötvös, it works very well. They both know each other and you can feel the interaction between the soloist and conductor.
The second piece is a recording premiere of Peter Eötvös piece "Seven". Composed in 2003 the title  refers to the accident of space shuttle colombia.

If you are open to new music than you wont be disappointed. Very intressting piece and worth listening to.

When composer and conductor Györgi Ligeti passed away in 2006 a piece of modern music history went with it. His music can be heard in some of the most popular films of today. Kubrick was sued for alternating his music in 2001 a space odyssey. Kubrick used him further on in "The Shining" and "Eyes Wide Shut".

His micro-polyphony compositions are extrodinary and his Violin Concerto performed here by Ensemble Modern and Kopatchinskaja is outstanding. Strange music some people might say but composed with intellect and heart I say. So log on to spotify and listen to this marvelous music or buy the record itself. It's worth having. It's a jungle out there with violin players we know but  Kopatchinskaja is worth listening to.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

From Domingo to Dudamel: Clive Barda's best photos - in pictures

Clive Barda the photographer of performing arts celebrates 43 years in the profession this year.
The Royal Opera house of Covent Garden will exhibit some of his best photos until october 20th.
If you don't  live in London you have a look at some of the photos here:

More about Clive Barda can be found on his website:

Wagner: The Complete Operas. November 5th.

Great news for Wagner fans. On november 5th Deutsche Grammophone will release a complete set of Richard Wagners operas. All of them. Including Rienzi, Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot.
The recordings are as follows:

Der ring des Nibelungen: Metropolitan opera house 1987-1989. James Levine

Der Fliegende Holländer: Berlin 1991. Giuseppe Sinopoli

Tannhäuser: Paris Version. London 1989. Giuseppe Sinopoli

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Berlin 1976. Eugen Jochum

Tristan und Isolde: Dresden 1982. Carlos Kleiber

Lohengrin: Vienna 1986. Sir Georg Solti

Parsifal: 1971, 1972. Vienna. Sir Georg Solti

Rienzi: Dresden 1974, 1976. Heinrich Hollreiser

Die Feen: BBC Northern. 1976. Edward Downes

Das Liebesverbot: May 1976. Edward Downes.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Claudio Abbado

One of Classicalifys favorite conductors of all time Claudio Abbado has recieved the Life time achievement award from the brittish magazine gramophone. He has also recieved the award for best DVD perfomance of Bruckners fifth symphony with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Our warmest congratulations to Claudio.
Daniel Harding a close friend of Claudio and the music director of Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Swedish Symphony Orchestra writes about his friend in the current issue of gramophone.

Women of the year.


Nina Stemme on the cover of Opera News the november issue. 
Nina Stemme has recently been awarded the grammophone award together with Jonas Kaufmann and Claudio Abbado for their recording of "Fidelio".Congratulations to all of the artist.   

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Berlin-Dresden-Berlin May 2012

Classicalify has been very busy lately and not very active on the blog which we do apologise for.
But here is an update on the many events in Germany of last month.

Our trip to Berlin started on may 11th for two concerts with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. Claudio is a great favorite of ours at classicalify.
Every year Claudios concerts with his old orchestra are sold out well in advance and now even with a change of program for the better. We will write more about that later.

The program consisted of works by Alban Berg and Robert Schumann.
Schumanns overture to Genova gave the concert a grand opening for the finale of the evening, the second symphony. Alban Bergs alte lieder performed by Anne Sofie von Otter was spellbounding and von Otter is much suited for lieder now days than opera. Her voice still has that silky tone which she is well known for. The only bad sign of her act was her choice of wardrobe. White jeans and a flower tunic. No comments. Isabell Faust finished the first act with a very grand performance of Bergs violin concerto. Miss Faust has recently made a recording of the violin concerto with Orchestra Mozart and maestro Abbado. Highly recommended. She is a virtuos player with great style and created an atmosphere of just pure magic in the air. Alban Bergs music can be very heavy but it's full of mysteri. After the break one of the best symphonys by Schumann followed. A marvelous symphony and in the hands of Claudio Abbado it was pure joy. He looked very happy afterwords.
As usual on every concert with Claudio a nice standing ovation on both concerts. Don't miss next year in Berlin when Claudio conducts Mendelssohn and Berlioz.

Our first stop on the second tour of Germany was the city of Dresden and a concert with the new music director of the staatskapelle Christian Thielemann. Dresden is very proud to promote Thielemanns name as you can see on the picture above.

The concert consisted of one major symphonic work. Anton Bruckners symphony nr 8.
The concert took place in the semper opera house. A beautiful opera house with a sad history.
Built in 1841 by Gottfried Semper and almost destroyed in 1869 by fire and rebuilt again partly by Semper in 1871. During world war two the opera house was destroyed during the last months of the war in 1945. It wasn't until 1985 the opera's reconstruction was completed. Sadly a flood from the nearby river Elbe in 2002 caused heavy water damage but thanks to helpful investments it re-opened the same year. The perfomance of the eight symphony was very nice. Thielemann knows Bruckner very well and together with his new orchestra it was a sublime perfomance. Bruckners admiration for Wagner is very noticable with a huge horn section and a few wagner horns as well. The second movements wonderful horn play was pure bliss. The adagio was  just amazing and the dramatic finale with it's powerful beginning was the best performance of the eight symphony you could ask for.

Back to Berlin and for a perfomance of Verdis "Simon Boccanegra" at the Schiller Theater.
Unfortunatly the staatsoper is still closed for reconstruction. Newspapers in Berlin reported that huge wooden poles has been found underneath the opera house and further delayed the opening of the house. Daniel Barenboim is furious. The old house will open in 2014 at the latest.

Placido Domingo sang the title role and Barenboim conducted. Anja Harteros sang Maria.

A very traditional performance set in the period of the 14th century. Directed by Federico Tiezzi.

Domingo was just amazing as the troubled Doge who must uphold his public duty while coping with private burdens of loss and his filial duty. Barenboim got a few boos from the audience after the break but classicalify gave shouts of bravo. A wonderful evening at the beautiful Schiller Teater. Let's pray that's staatsoper will open very soon.

Our stay in Berlin ended with a concert in Philharmonie of Richards Wagners opera "Die Walküre".
Sir Simon Rattle conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker and among the cast was Terje Stensvold as Wotan and superstar Ewa Maria Westbroek as Siegliend with Christian Elsner as Siegmund and Evelyn Herlitzius as Brünnhilde. A wonderful set of singers apart from Elsner who stood on his toes to achieve the high notes and lack of acting. Westbroek on the other hand gave it all and Stensvold is amazing. His voice is as fresh as ever. Berliner philharmoniker is just the best orchestra in the world and Sir Simon Rattle is one the best conductors of our time. The Berlin Philharmonic will soon go on a tour so check the website as soon possible. They might play in a city near you.

As I wrote earlier about change of program. If you have any plans to hear the Lucerne Festival Orchestra with Claudio Abbado conducting we assume you thought Mahlers eight symphony is on the program. Unfortunatly it's been changed. Claudio doesn't have a very good relationship with this grand symphony all though he has recorded the symphony in Berlin many years ago he hasn't cared very much for the piece. The reason is he wants to find new ideas and the score doesn't say very much for him. How ever the Swedish Radio choir will still be there and perform the requiem by Mozart instead and Beethovens Egmont drama. Tickets are still availble.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Drottningholm 2012

Opera performances:
"This summer at Drottningholm we will be dipping into two of the richest myths of our western culture: the ancient Greek epic recounting the exploits of Jason and Medea, and the mediæval legend of Roland. They are united by a fascination with the unfathomable experience of human love. Jason falls in love with Medea, but isn't she a sorceress? Orlando is in love with Angelica, but it's a love that sends him mad. We talk of the magic and madness of love even today, and, what's more, both stories deal with love across cultural and religious boundaries… So-called forbidden love. But isn't this a non sequitur?"Mark Tatlow, Artistic Director

Jason & Medea, read more

Orlando paladino, read more

Tickets are on sale for the two operas. Tickets for Peter Mattei will be released on March 27.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Classicalify on tour...

What is better than to catch the spring at the continent? Classicalify recently did a small tour to Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt to enjoy the spring heat and sun and of course some good opera performances.

We started in Brussels, who welcomed us with RAIN! This ugly city, filled with VIP:s from the EU and a high number of immigrants, does have THE opera house of the year (2011) and maybe some of the most interesting productions in Europe. So, even if Classicalify does not like the city, Classicalify LOVE the opera house, La Monnaie/De Munt.

This time we went to see Dvorak's "Rusalka", a production by Norwegian director Stefan Herheim that opened some years ago. And what a show this was! Fun, witty, kitschy and lots of stuff to look at ON stage and IN the auditorium. This performance took place all over and made us very happy.

Rusalka was sung by Tatiana Monogarova (born in Moscow). A creamy soprano reminding us of Renée Fleming. Her song to the moon was delivered very accurate and with much passion. The satellite TV dishes on the balconys of the houses around the town square were spotlighted and accompanied Rusalka as four moons - very nice! A happy surprise for Classicalify was swedish soprano Annalena Persson singing Princesse étrangère. For the first time she showed us a comic side and she did it very good. You could see she really enjoyed it. Her full dramatic soprano was used to the maximum for her small part, and so was her acting skills! To see her and the prince having sex in the Royal box added to all the fun.

From Brussels, Classicalify, went to Berlin and straight to Staatsoper at Schiller Theater. "L'Elisir d'amore" with Rolando Villazon back after his throat problems, what could that be? Well, the glitter and the brightness on the top notes was not there. In duets and ensembles Villazon disappeared in the crowd... This was not what it used to be. Classicalify do hope he slowly will work his way back o the top. The voice is there, but it feels like he dosen't dare letting it all out...and we understand! Take care Rolando!

One of the most writen about performances in Berlin for the moment is "Der Freischütz" at Komische Oper. Spanish director Calixto Bieito is, as usual, making headlines and uproar. Nude scenes, blood, sex, dead animals and weapons are common stuff in his productions. The performance started out with a big, fat pig walking around in the woods... and Classicalify and company waited for someone to shoot the pig. The tension was spectacular and horrifying!

The russian tenor Dimitry Golovnin sang Max and obviously did not approve of Bieito's intensions. He was wearing his underwear all the time. The tenor in the first cast went on diet, lost 50 kg, and act nude! A little disappointment for Classicalify! If you are going to see this, do not bring your underaged children along, they will not be admitted to the performance if they are under 16!

Back to Unter den Linden at Schiller Theater and "Tristan und Isolde". This is a performance Classicalfy have seen a couple of times before. The fallen angel version. Waltraud Meier was casted as Isolde but was replaced by swedish international soprano Irene Théorin. And was that a luck! What a voice! Théorin (49 years old) must be at her peak righ now. In the beginning of the year she sang three Elektras in Stockholm to much acclaim and here she stepped in and did an Isolde of world class. Her Tristan was Ian Storey and King Marke was sung by René Pape. Daniel Barenboim conducted. In the audience we spotted Patti Smith who we hope enjoyed it as much as we did.

From Berlin to Frankfurt and a concert performance of Mascagni's "L'amico Fritz". Star Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja in this rare piece is really a wonder of singing and passion. A clear, distinct voice and pianissimos nevere heard before. A most enjoyable eavning!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Baltic Sea Festival celebrates 10 year 2012... and what a stellar cast Festival it will be...

The famous "Tsunami-Tristan" will at last come to Stockholm. The video installation by Bill Viola has been on everyone's lips since it started out several years ago... Classicalify saw it in Paris and was of course impressed by the singing... and if you like video installations you have to see it... Say no more! The singers will knock your heads off!

There will also be a Jubilee concert with Nina Stemme, Beethoven 9 (Herbert Blomstedt) and of course Valerij Gergiev will conduct, this year he brings the Marinskij Ballet to Stockholm.

Tickets on sale March 6.

24 augusti kl 18.00 Tristan och Isolde

Föreställning av videokonstnären Bill Viola, regissören Peter Sellars och Esa-Pekka Salonen

Finska Radions Symfoniorkester

Orphei Drängar

Esa-Pekka Salonen, dirigent

Gary Lehman, tenor (Tristan)

Violeta Urmana, sopran (Isolde)

Matti Salminen, bas (Marke)

Michele de Young, mezzosopran (Brangäne)

Jukka Rasilainen, baryton (Kurwenal)

Waltteri Torikka, tenor (Melot)

Tuomas Katajala, baryton (Sjömannen och Herden)

Arttu Kataja, baryton (Styrmannen)

Peter Sellars, regi

Bill Viola, videoinstallation

Read more here:

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Peter Mattei to sing Amfortas

This will probably be THE performance of the year 2013. Metropolitan launches a new "Parsifal" and the cast is STAR filled...

Jonas Kaufmann stars in the title role of the innocent who finds wisdom. His fellow Wagnerian luminaries include Katarina Dalayman as the mysterious Kundry, Peter Mattei as the ailing Amfortas, Evgeny Nikitin as the wicked Klingsor, and René Pape as the noble knight Gurnemanz. Daniele Gatti conducts.

More info on Met Opera homepage here:

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Young Donizetti in Vadstena summer 2012

Summer 2012 Classicalify advice all bel canto-freaks to go to Vadstena, small summer city at lake Vättern in Sweden. Famous for it's Vadstena Academy where young singers develop.
This summer you can see Donizetti's Enrico di Borgogna, not played for 193 years!

First performance of "Enrico di Borgogna" took place in Venice 1818. Second performance will take place in Vadstena 2012.

From Vadstena Academy site we copy this:

We will revive an opera that has been "sleeping" for 193 years, Donizetti's first opera "Enrico di Borgogna". The first performance will be on July 20, 2012 at Vadstena Castle. Enrico di Borgogna as a production is also a study period for the young singers who are participating in the opera academy this year. In the principal roles of Enrico and Guido we will see Kinga Dobay and Thomas Volle.

Enrico di Borgogna will play in The wedding hall at Vadstena Castle July 20- August 7.

Enrico - Kinga Dobay (mezzo soprano).
Pietro - Markus Pettersson (tenor).
Elisa - Rebecca Rasmussen (soprano).
Guido - Thomas Volle (tenor).
Gilberto - Christian Oldenburg (baritone).
Brunone - Ludvig Lindström (bass-baritone).
Nicola - Peter Nyqvist (tenor).
Geltrude - Christina Nilsson (soprano).

Composer: Gaetano Donizetti (1818)
Libretto: Bartolomeo Merelli.
Director: Clara Svärd
Conductor: Olof Boman.
Stage design: Clive Leaver.
Costumes: Anna Kjellsdotter.
Lighting designer: Jimmy Ström
Mask design: Katrin Wahlberg
Orchestra: Twenty-eight musicians.

For tickets and more info, check their site:

Monday, 23 January 2012

Nina Stemme as Turandot

According to Swedish morning paper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) and interview with Birgitta Svendén, head of Royal Opera Stockholm, Nina Stemme will debut her Turandot spring 2013 in Stockholm. Same year Stemme will also sing a new Salome in Stockholm.

Well, there is a tradition of quite good Turandots, Classicalify would say... First Birgit Nilsson and then...eeee... Well, Stemme will do!

For the moment Stemme sings Minnie in "Fanciulla del West" in Stockholm (later she will sing Minnie in Vienna and Paris).

Here are some news for 2012-2013:



Regi: Ole Anders Tandberg. Dir: Stefan Klingele.

Med Daniel Johansson, Ida Falk Winland, Carl Ackerfeldt.


Regi: Tobias Theorell. Dir: Pier Giorgio Morandi.

Med Andrea Caré, Emma Vetter, Fredrik Zetterström.

VÅREN 2013


Regi: Marco Arturo Marelli. Dir: Thomas Søndergård.

Med Nina Stemme, Riccardo Massi, Yana Klayn.

Peter Grimes

Regi: Johanna Garpe. Dir: Lawrence Renes.

Det gyllene skeppet(Benjamin Brittens The golden vanity)



Regi: Sofia Jupither. Dir: Lawrence Renes.

Med Nina Stemme.


Dir: Patrik Ringborg.

If you can read Swedish the interview is found here:

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Thomas Quasthoff retires.

German singer Thomas Quasthoff has retired from the stage due to health reasons.
Read more in this article from

Mr Quasthoff is one of the best singers of our time in my opinion. If you ever experienced a live performance with him you will never forget it. Quasthoff is widely known as a singer of lieder and barouqe music. But he has also done a jazz album and performed a lot of the jazz repetoire on stage. Classicalify heard Quasthoff in Lucerne two years ago performing Mendelssohn "Elijah". Amazing performance. Quasthoff will dedicate his time to the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin. He will continue his work for young performers.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Porno Giulio Cesare in Stockholm

Is Classicalify looking forward to the new Händel "Giulio Cesare" at Folkoperan in Stockholm? Well... can be fun, and from pictures and invitation (a pair of handcuffs) you sense some burlesque and sexy stuff is coming...

Production is by Spanish Cisco Aznar.

Direction, choreography, sets & costumes: Cisco Aznar

Giulio Cesare: Maria Sanner
Cleopatra: Tove Dahlberg
Cornelia: Karolina Blixt
Sextus: Josefine Anderssson
Tolomeo: Daniel Carlsson
Achilla: Håkan Ekenäs

See more on the folkoperan page: