Category Archives: Opera

Finale 24 – La Forza Del Destino

Verdi started to threaten to retire before he was 50. After composing Un Ballo in Maschera he said he was done and that the life of a gentleman farmer was to be his for the remainder of his life. In 1861 he was approached by the great tenor Enrico Tamberlick, acting as an agent for…


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The Met Must Cancel Wagner

The Metropolitan Opera has recently sent two of its biggest stars down the wormhole – James Levine and Placido Domingo. Before we get to the big enchilada, the subject of this piece, there are lesser players whose memory must be erased. Enrico Caruso, he was a fanny picher and was arrested and fined for the…


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Verdi Otello Kaufmann

Jonas Kaufmann sang the title role Otello for the first time in 2017. The venue was London’s Royal Opera House. Antonio Pappano conducted then as he does on the CD of Verdi’s masterpiece issued earlier this year by Sony . Both tenor and conductor seemed to have a slightly tenuous grasp of Verdi’s penultimate opera…


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Top Ten Tenors List

[James Drake is an internationally known author, pedagogue, administrator, and general all around expert on opera singers. He has written the definitive biography of Richard Tucker and several books on the legendary American soprano Rosa Ponselle. NK] In the mid-1970s, when I was writing occasional articles for High Fidelity, I interviewed renowned Ukranian-American basso Alexander Kipnis about…


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Giuseppe Bellantoni

Giuseppe Bellantoni (1880-1946) was another outstanding Italian baritone whom opera seems to have forgotten. Born in Messina, Sicily he went to Rome in his early 20s to study under the legendary baritone Antonio Cotogni (1831-1918). Alas, Cortogni’s career preceded the recording era. Everyone including Verdi and Toscanini thought him the prince of baritones. When his…


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Domenico Viglione Borghese

Domenico Viglione Borghese (1877-1957) was an Italian baritone who was active at a time when there was an abundance of first rate Italian baritones. This unusual confluence of fine singers explains why Viglione Borghese is virtually forgotten today. Born the same years as Tita Ruffo, his path to the top of the operatic world was…


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Lethal Tenors

Serious operas typically end with one or more of the principals dead. The tenor is more often victim than perp. The following excerpts are from operas where the tenor is the killer, an unusual occurrence in an art form where tenors are usually the good guys. First Verdi’s Luisa Miller. The following description is adapted…


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Maria Stuarda Not in HD

Today was to be the final HD telecast of the Met’s 2019-20 season. But the company is as closed as an open mind. To compensate the Met broadcast, no TV, a 2013 performance of the opera that was to have been on had not the virus paralyzed the world. Maria Stuarda was Donizetti’s 100,345th opera…


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Finale 23 – Otello Act 3

I’ve previously written about this finale, but it’s so good that I thought I’d post another version of it to compliment the three posted in June 2018. The great concertatos that fill Verdi’s operas return in a spectacular conclusion to Act 3 of Verdi’s Otello. Though Verdi’s great ensembles are glorious and unsurpassed, they had…


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Opera Interludes

My subject is the instrumental music that occurs during a scene or between two. Excluded are overtures, preludes, and ballet music. Sometimes the distinction between an interlude or intermezzo and a prelude can be precious, but if the music below is called an interlude, an intermezzo, or in one case a meditation I accepted it…


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