Category Archives: Opera

Scarpia Sings Again

Baritones are rarely heroes in opera. But they usually have at least one redeeming characteristic. Rigoletto loves his daughter, Macbeth accepts his fate with manly resignation, etc. Iago in Verdi’s Otello is 100% villain. There’s nothing remotely good about him. He’s the devil’s spawn.  Puccini isn’t as generous to baritones as was Verdi. But he…


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Chamber Music By Opera Composers

Most opera composers are specialists. There are only four greats who are equally noted for both operatic and instrumental music – Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, and Strauss. Chamber music is defined as: “Instrumental music played by a small ensemble, with one player to a part, the most important form being the string quartet which developed in…


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Recondita Armonia

Tosca has two great tenor arias. Everyone knows the third act’s ‘E lucevan le stelle’. ‘Recondita armonia’, the subject of this article, appears in the first act only minutes after the show has started. It requires a different approach from its more famous brother. It needs a full voiced sound without the filatura and pianissimo…


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Finale 22 – Die Walküre

The end of the last act of Wagner’s second Ring opera reaches such an exalted level of artistic achievement that one is almost ready to overlook the awfulness of the personality that created it. No conductor since the beginning of the recording era interpreted Wagner’s music with the skill and insight that was displayed by…


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Agrippina in HD

Handel’s Agrippina was telecast throughout the world yesterday. Written in 1709 it now holds the record as the oldest opera to be performed by the Met. Though an opera seria, it is more like an opera buffa. It lampoons the politics surrounding the Emperor Claudius. Agrippina was his fourth and final wife. She murdered him, along…


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Gianfranco Cècchele

Gianfranco Cècchele (1938-2018) was a noted tenor who was trained by Marcello Del Monaco, the younger brother of Mario. Accordingly he was a belter in the mold of his teacher’s older brother and other pupils of Marcello such as Amadeo Zambon profiled here in 2016. Thus it’s not surprising that he wanted to be a…


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Angel Blue

Angel Blue is a young (b 1984) American soprano who opened this season at the Met as Bess in Gershwin’s opera. Thus far she has sung 31 performances at the New York house all in La Bohème or Porgy and Bess. Oddly for such a gifted singer who is headed for the pinnacle of opera’s…


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Porgy and Bess in HD

The Met’s new production of Gershwin’s opera which opened its current season was telecast around the world today. Before getting to the performance, a few words about the opera. Though 80 years old, it is still under copyright as the Gershwin family has proved to be master manipulators of the relevant US law governing intellectual…


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Ildar Abdrazakov – Verdi Arias

Ildar Abdrazakov (b 1976) has been one of the world’s leading basses since making his Met debut in 2004 as Masetto in Don Giovanni. These days he sings the title role with the company. The Russian singer has a varied repertoire which includes many Verdi’s roles. Deutsche Grammophon recently released a recital disc by Abdrazakov simply…


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Wozzeck in HD

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck is opera’s great case of PTSD. Written during and immediately after The Great War it is an exemplar of the insanity that produced the war and that which followed it. The libretto, by the composer, is taken from Georg Büchner’s unfinished play Woyzeck. The author died in 1837 at age 23. Berg…


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