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Richard Strauss

Monday, December 5, 2016


parterre box

November 28

Solid gold

parterre boxThis week’s opera is Die Liebe der Danae, which adds another notch to our complete traversal of the works of Richard Strauss, and completes the series of broadcasts from the 2016 Salzburger Festspiele. Krassimira Stoyanova, Tomasz Konieczny, and Norbert Ernst star; Franz Welser-Möst is on the podium. Truth be told, this is an opera which your alter Jungfer doesn’t know very well and, having engaged in a small battle with a door last week (the door won, resulting in a slight concussion; please don’t worry), we shall have to turn to better-informed Parterriani and the omnipotent Wikipedia to enlighten us further . Photo: Salzburger Festspiele / Forster

Royal Opera House

December 2

Watch: Livestreamed insights into Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier on 6 December 2016

Renée Fleming, production image for Robert Carsen's Der Rosenkavalier © 2016 ROH A ROH Insights event exploring Robert Carsen' s new Royal Opera production of Richard Strauss ’s Der Rosenkavalier will be livestreamed for free via this page on 6 December 2016 at 7.15pm GMT. Director of Opera Kasper Holten will interview American soprano Renée Fleming about taking on the role of the Marschallin, a princess who seduces a much younger lover in the Count Octavian. Professor Margaret Reynold from Queen Mary, University of London will join the event to discuss the historical context of the work, which had its premiere in Dresden, Germany in 1911. Since then, Der Rosenkavalier has become one of the staple works in the opera repertory, thanks in part to its exquisite music. The evening promises to bring audiences closer to Strauss's magnificent score, with a look at several excerpts and exclusive performances by cast members. Later in the evening, director Robert Carsen, whose previous productions for The Royal Opera include Falstaff and Dialogues des Carmélites , will provide further details of his new production. Carsen will also take part in a Q&A with members of the audience and those watching at home – send in your questions via Twitter using #ROHrosenkavalier . Subscribe to the Royal Opera House YouTube channel for notifications about further live streams: // function onYtEvent(payload) { if (payload.eventType == 'subscribe') { // Add code to handle subscribe event. } else if (payload.eventType == 'unsubscribe') { // Add code to handle unsubscribe event. } if (window.console) { // for debugging only window.console.log('YT event: ', payload); } } // ]]> Der Rosenkavalier runs from 17 December 2016 – 24 January 2017. Tickets are still available .




The Well-Tempered Ear

December 2

Classical music: Broadcasts of operas from the Met and string quartets by the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet are featured on old media and new media this Saturday and Sunday. Plus, the 89th Edgewood college Christmas Concert is tonight and tomorrow afternoon.

ALERT: Edgewood College will present its 89th Annual Christmas Concerts tonight at 7 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive. Now expanded to two performances, the holiday concert features the Edgewood College choirs and Concert Band, along with audience sing-alongs, prelude music by the Guitar Ensemble, and a post-concert reception featuring the Jazz Ensemble. Tickets are $10, and seating is limited for this very popular annual event. Tickets should be purchased online in advance. By Jacob Stockinger Classical music meets old media and new media this weekend through opera and chamber music. SATURDAY This Saturday marks the beginning of the LIVE RADIO broadcasts of operas from the Metropolitan Opera (below) in New York City. This will be the 86th season for the radio broadcasts, which educated and entertained generations of opera lovers before there were DVDs, streaming and the “Live in HD From the Met” broadcasts to movie theaters. The performances will be carried locally on Wisconsin Public Radio, WERN-FM 88.7. This Saturday, the starting time for Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” with Russian superstar soprano Anna Netrebko (below, in a photo by Richard Termine for The New York Times), is 11:30 CST. Other operas will have different starting times, depending their length. This season runs from Dec. 3-May 15. Radio has certain strengths, The Ear thinks. For one, it allows the listeners to focus on the music, to be less distracted or less enriched – depending on your point of view – by sets, costumes, lighting, the physicality of the acting and other stagecraft that is left to the imagination. This season, there will be lots of standard fare including: Verdi’s “La Traviata” and “Aida”; Puccini’s “La Boheme”; Bizet’s “Carmen”; Beethoven’s “Fidelio”; Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and “The Flying Dutchman”; Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” and “Salome”; and Mozart’s “Idomeneo.” But you can also hear the new music and less frequently staged operas. They include the 2000 opera “L’amour de loin” (Love From Afar) by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, which will receive its Metropolitan Opera premiere next week, on Dec. 10. Here is a link to the complete season along with links to information about the various productions. Starting times are Eastern Standard Time, so deduct an hour for Central Standard Time or a different amount for your time zone: http://www.metopera.org/Season/Radio/Saturday-Matinee-Broadcasts/ SUNDAY On this Sunday afternoon, the Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer), longtime artists-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, will wrap up the first semester of “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen,” which used to air weekly on Wisconsin Public Radio but now is presented once a month, on the first Sunday of the month, directly by the museum. The program this Sunday features the “Italian Serenade” by Hugo Wolf; the String Quartet No. 3 in F Major by Dmitri Shostakovich; and the String Quartet in A-Flat Major, Op. 105, by Antonin Dvorak. The FREE concert takes place from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery No. 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Donors to the museum can reserve seats. Concerts by the Pro Arte Quartet, kind of the house quartet of the museum, are usually “sold out.” But the concert can also be streamed live via computer or smart phone by clicking on the arrow in the photo and using the portal on the following website: https://www.chazen.wisc.edu/index.php?/events-calendar-demo/event/sunday-afternoon-live-at-the-chazen-12-4-16/ You might also want to arrive early or stay late to see the historic and rare First Folio edition (below) of the plays by William Shakespeare that is on display at the Chazen Museum through Dec. 11 to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard. Tagged: acting , Aida , Anna Netrebko , Arts , band , Beethoven , Bizet , Carmen , Cello , Chamber music , chapel , Chazen Museum of Art , Choir , choral music , Christmas , Classical music , computer , Concert , costume , DVD , Dvorak , Edgewood College , Finland , First Folio , guitar , Holiday , Hugo Wolf , Italian Serenade , Jacob Stockinger , Jazz , Kaija Saariaho , La bohème , La Traviata , lighting , Live From The Met in HD , Ludwig van Beethoven , Madison , Met , Metropolitan Opera , Metropolitan Opera Live in HD , movie , Mozart , Music , new media , New Music , New York City , New York Times , old media , opera , Orchestra , Prelude , premiere , Pro Arte Quartet , Puccini , Radio , Richard Strauss , Richard Wagner , Russia , Salome , sets , Shakespeare , Shostakovich , sing-along , smart phone , soprano , St. Joseph , stagecraft , streaming , String quartet , Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen , theater , Tristan und Isolde , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Verdi , Viola , Violin , vocal music , Wisconsin , wisconsin public radio , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart



The Boston Musical Intelligencer

November 29

Celebrated Soprano and Brilliant Harpist To Collaborate

Coloratura soprano assoluta Diana Damrau is inked to play an emotional and intimate Celebrity Series recital of works by by Debussy, Smetana, Richard Strauss, Reynaldo Hahn, Chausson, Fauré, Duparc and Eva Dall’Acqua with sui generis harpist Xavier de Maistre on December 4th in Jordan Hall at 3. The complete program is here . JC: An emerging singer, I have been humbled by your musicality, artistry, and generosity of spirit for years, and am so honored to have an opportunity to ask you some questions for our readers and for many young singers who will be in attendance on December 4th in Boston. How did you come to decide the repertoire that you will perform, and what is your emotional connection to the French musical languages of Hahn, Debussy, Fauré, Duparc? It is my love! Upon arriving to school, I developed an immediate and intense connection to the French language and poetry. So much so that during my studies I could not keep my hands off all things “mélodie.” Discovering that Xavier de Maistre has some of the same musical preferences, we had an extensive—almost excessive—session to find repertoire we could perform together. These are our favorites! How does singing this specific repertoire with a harp differ from performing with a piano? Xavier is, as we all know, a brilliant soloist on the harp, but he is also a master of accompaniment. He has the understanding of vocal music, and the musical sensitivity to react in the most delicate way with his colors and intensity. The harp has, as compared to the piano, a much broader spectrum of dynamics, from pianissimo—like a shimmer of the moon – to the true forte of great sound. As a singer you can sonically “paint” with a greater palette of colors and softness, but you are more exposed with a harp as opposed to being accompanied by the piano. How has your understanding of, or thoughts about, the repertoire altered since beginning your collaboration with Xavier de Maistre? It has deepened my sense of the possibilities that I have in performing song (as opposed to Opera) and has given me more courage for taking risks and exploring new sounds and level of interpretation. What music, when no one is watching or listening, do you absolutely love to sing? I love to sing almost all kinds of music, and cannot narrow it down to one piece or even genre. What routine, if any, do you follow on the morning that you have a concert in the evening? Do you do anything differently on days off? Under the perfect circumstances, I try to sleep as long as I possibly can, wake up, and have a nice healthy breakfast. I would then go to the hall and warm up the voice, going through the program by myself. Then a late lunch, a little siesta, and finally a warm up with my colleague/s at the concert hall. On days off there is no singing and only my family; I am a different human being :-) How do you stay healthy (vocally and otherwise) with the amount of travel and performing that you are required to do? I rest as much as possible, and always weigh the risk/benefits of singing fully in rehearsal rather than marking. When I learn new works, I do so “with the head” not the voice. I eat healthily and I often take walks in nature. Overall, I try to NOT panic. What are some of the most profound things that you know now about the voice or being an opera singer that you wish you had the opportunity to tell “student Diana?” Actually nothing. There are things you must experience and learn to negotiate; the rest will come. * * * A performer on the world’s leading opera and concert stages for two decades, Damrau possesses a vast repertoire spanning both lyric soprano and coloratura roles including the title roles in Lucia di Lammermoor (La Scala, Bavarian State Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House), Manon (Vienna State Opera, Metropolitan Opera) and La traviata (La Scala, Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Opéra national de Paris and Bavarian State Opera) as well as Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera, Salzburg Festival, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House). In the past years alone, she has achieved great success in the role of Leïla in a new production Les pêcheurs de perles at the Metropolitan Opera, performed her first solo song recital in the Stern Auditorium of NYC’s Carnegie Hall, debuted as the Countess in a new production of Le nozze di Figaro at La Scala, undertaken a European tour of Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Kirill Petrenko and the Bayerische Staatsorchester, and sang her first Juliette in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Xavier de maistre (Marco Borggreve photo) Xavier de Maistre belongs to an elite category of soloists who are redefining what is possible with their instrument. Aside from new commissions from composers such as Krzysztof Penderecki and Kaija Saariaho, he performs works like Smetana’s “Ma Vlast” with breathtaking precision, presenting masterful arrangements of works that are usually played by an entire orchestra. His exclusive contract with Sony Music has so far yielded music by Haydn, Rodrigo, Ginastera and Debussy—the latter for which he was awarded the Echo Klassik Award 2009 as “Instrumentalist of the Year”. In 2012 “Notte Veneziana”, a recording of baroque concertos with the Ensemble l’arte del mondo, was released. Highly acclaimed by the press, ‘Notte Veneziana’ entered the top ten in the classical music charts. His forthcoming recordings include a DVD with Diana Damrau and a CD recording of Mozart piano concertos arranged for harp, with Mozarteum Salzburg and conductor Ivor Bolton. Joshua Collier, lyric tenor and Co-Founder of Opera Brittenica, is represented by Berger Artist Management and enjoys performing Opera, Concert, and Musical Theatre works around the country, and with many of Boston’s musical institutions. The post Celebrated Soprano and Brilliant Harpist To Collaborate appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .

parterre box

November 27

All about my mother

Operatic history can be cruel where multiple works with the same subject are concerned, generally consigning all but one example to obscurity, or at best the fringes of the regular repertory. In the case of Massenet’s 1881 Hérodiade, it isn’t hard to see how the work’s gentle melodies and crowd-pleasing Orientalism became hopelessly uncool in the wake of Richard Strauss’ blockbuster treatment of the Salome story a quarter century later. Yet, as demonstrated by a committed, strongly cast performance by Washington Concert Opera this past Sunday, these judgments can be unfair. For his sophomore work on the international stage, the 36 year-old Massenet returned to the vicinity of his 1877 breakout hit, Le Roi de Lahore, with another grand opera in an exotic locale. After failing to secure an opening at either the Paris Opera or La Scala, Hérodiade opened at La Monnaie in December 1881 to a warm reception (including a rowdy bunch of Parisians music scenesters who had hopped the train for the occasion). It would go on to play 55 performances in Brussels that season, followed by a healthy showing across Europe and the world in subsequent decades before falling out of favor. Though it has never appeared at the Met, occasional revivals include a mid-90s San Francisco effort starring Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming and Dolora Zajick which produced a live recording. The French libretto by Paul Milliet and Henri Grémont (who would later reteam to more lasting effect with Werther) was crafted from an Italian libretto by Angelo Zanardini, originally based on Flaubert’s novella “Hérodias.” The similarities between the final product and Flaubert’s dreamy flight of biblical impressionism are mostly superficial, the librettists having taken to the source material with all the fidelity of modern-day Hollywood writers charged with punching up a property. Instead of the strange, brutal ancients hinted at by Flaubert and memorably dramatized by Wilde and Strauss in later years, we get juicy drama and a tidy collection of familiar characters. Salomé here is a far cry from Strauss’ manic teen sex kitten. Abandoned by Hérodias, this Salomé has been sneaking off to Bible study and has fallen in love with one Jean le Baptiste. The young lovers are troubled both by Jean’s reluctance to give into earthly love as well as his precarious position vis a vis Hérodias (who does not appreciate his frequent cries of “Jezabel!”) and Hérode, who plans to use Jean in a revolt against the Romans, but is also partial to Jean’s girlfriend. Hérodeis a sort of Count di Luna type mostly guilty of pining after the ingenue while being a baritone (the opera seems ambivalent about whether this Herod is a creep or not). Hérodias gets top billing in Flaubert for arranging the infamous dance and precipitating the story’s grisly ending, but the opera excises both dance and decapitation, leaving her role somewhat unclear beyond “bitter mezzo with a past.” Hérodiade finds herself both remorseful for abandoning her daughter but also despising her daughter for stealing away Hérode’s affections. In the end, Hérode’s unrequited lust turns deadly, and he threatens to execute both Salome and Jean. When Jean is executed (offstage, no head) and she is pardoned, Salome blames Hérodiade and vengefully stabs herself. Also there’s a lot more political intrigue involving the Romans. Hérodiade isn’t the tightest libretto, and it’s easy to see why it might fail to make an immediate connection with modern audiences. As with a lot of grand opera, the excessive plot layers make it tough to get invested in the story, and the twists and turns can feel dated and melodramatic. But if the parts don’t quite add up to a fulfilling whole, it is rarely dull, with a steady procession of incident filled scenes and mercifully concise pageantry and intrigue sections. And of course there is much to appreciate in Massenet’s evocative and often transporting score. Major statements for the characters, several of which have found a second life on the recital stage, are frequently memorable, as are a series of highly dramatic ensembles, all imbued with gorgeous French lyricism. To flesh out the biblical setting, Massenet creates a kaleidoscope of alluring colors and makes inventive and varied use of the orchestra. Indeed, it’s a score that seems especially well-suited for the concert opera treatment where one can engage more directly with the orchestra, and WCO Maestro Antony Walker again demonstrated the advantages of this format for an unfamiliar work. Walker excelled in a number of heady climaxes, driving the large pickup forces to some exhilarating tempi, including in the monumental Act III finale, which had its nail biting moments but ultimately came off splendidly. Walker also proved a sensitive accompanist for the singers, highlighting some of the rich interplay between the vocal lines and Massenet’s orchestral effects. If there were some shaggy moments and misfires here and there in the orchestra, they did not detract from a compelling overall reading. But the evening really belonged to an outstanding cast of dynamic voices, several new to me, who displayed an infectious enthusiasm for introducing this work to new listeners. The evening’s marquee name, Michael Fabiano, who previously appeared with WCO in 2013’s concert of Il Corsaro, returned to sing Jean, easily enchanting the audience with that golden, irresistible tone and a compelling French sound. Outside of the big numbers, Fabiano’s reading of the part was perhaps the most exploratory, and once in awhile he pushed too far through a climax and ended up in an unpleasant shouty place. But his gorgeous Act IV “Adieu donc, vains objets,” a ravishing, if tardy, revelation of his love for Salomé, and their frantic subsequent duet were clear highlights of the evening. Soprano Joyce El-Khoury tackled nice-girl Salomé with a beguiling, sensual sound, bringing delicate pianissimo effects to her big first act number about her crush on Jean, “Il est doux, il est bon,” with only a bit of strain in some of the higher passages. “Charme des jours passés,” an anguished reminiscence of happier days with Jean after his Act III imprisonment, featured big polished top notes and a dusky, inviting middle register. Dana Beth Miller, stepping into the production just a week ago as Hérodiade , turned out to be the evening’s biggest coup. Her commanding mezzo is distinguished by a prominent but tightly controlled vibrato that lends substantial excitement and character to her sound, as well as blazing, and at times terrifying, top notes, which she used to great effect throughout the score. Her passionate Act I plea to Hérode to execute Jean, “Ne me refuse pas,” and fiery contributions to the following trio with Jean and Herod as well as other ensembles all exhibited a fierce dramatic commitment. As Hérode, Ricardo Rivera’s light, liquid baritone and sense of French style infused the Tetrarch’s frequently lyric passages with tender longing, while Wei Wu, one of the breakout stars of recent Washington National Opera young artist cohorts, applied his concentrated, elegant bass to court astrologer Phanuel. A few hiccups aside, the chorus, prepared by Bruce Stasyna, did strong work with a vast amount of material, including notable contributions like a beautiful hushed chorus for the Jewish crowd in Act III. Despite having thoroughly enjoyed this, it still seems unlikely that opera companies will be clamoring to present Hérodiade on a regular basis anytime soon, at least in its original sandals and palm fronds incarnation. On the other hand, this show is just begging for a thorough deconstruction. Enterprising directors looking for an easy target who would also like to do a good deed and familiarize new audiences with some awfully pretty Massenet music should take note. Photo: Don Lassell

Richard Strauss
(1864 – 1949)

Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, An Alpine Symphony, and Metamorphosen. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria. Strauss, along with Gustav Mahler, represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.



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