After the Met's opening night gala, blogger Fred Plotkin considers a cast that was more Moscow than Manhattan, some concerns about Italian singing and house traditions both bygone and emerging.
"The Metropolitan Opera premiere of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena is a cause for celebration and reflection for those of us with long memories," writes Fred Plotkin. And at least one advocate of bel canto opera deserves special credit for its arrival.
They are partly about the fancy wardrobe, air kisses, sparkling wine and finger food. "But a gala is really about the conviction," writes blogger Fred Plotkin, "that art matters and it is incumbent on us all to do our part to keep it front and center in the lives of us all."
Say “Bordeaux” to most people and it is synonymous with the gold standard of wine. But as blogger Fred Plotkin discovered on a visit to the French city, there's also a generous mix of opera, recitals, concerts, dance and plays.
The numbing effects of our everyday lives have been brought into the theater, writes Fred Plotkin. As a result, "most opera audience members do not activate their eyes, ears and other senses to fully take in the experience."
When singers perform music without words, they might perform a vocalise. "Language is a wonderful thing, but sometimes there are no words to express feelings that might be complex, wrenching or exultant," writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
On WQX-Aria, Fred Plotkin asks "Does creative genius reside exclusively in those who write words and music, or also in those who speak or sing these words and music? And are there different types of genius? What defines each?"
For an analogy to modern-day labor-management relations, consider the works of Richard Wagner. "Wagner might have been a bad manager of his own money, but he was very attuned to the dignity of work," writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
The connective thread to the great Italian singers of the past is frayed, writes Fred Plotkin. "I wish Italians would come to feel not only proud of their cultural heritage but actively protective of it and expert in it," he writes.
One of the problems in the Italian opera world today is the fact that singers have been marginalized and cannot necessarily forge careers in the way Italian conductors do. Yet blogger Fred Plotkin looks at a few standouts.
Who are the great Italian opera singers of contemporary times? In the first of a three part series, Fred Plotkin takes us on a virtual tour of the great Italian singers of recent past and present, introducing us to many you should know.
Many consider tenor Jussi Björling to be one of the greats of the "old Met". Find out why Fred Plotkin considers him to be one of his great childhood influences in this Listening Room profile.
Why do we have so many fine Italian conductors today? Considering names like Chailly, Luisi, Armiliato and Noseda, blogger Fred Plotkin notes, "I believe that Italy continues to produce outstanding musicians in families that are keepers of the musical flame."
Italian conductors have been very important in the pit at the Metropolitan Opera, writes blogger Fred Plotkin. "In the coming season, of the 22 conductors on the roster, there are six Italians and two more with Italian roots."
A holiday can present a composer with the opportunity to write festive music for chorus, orchestra, dancers and solo singers. Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci are two of the more colorful examples, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, Wagner's Siegfried and Sir William Walton's The Bear are just a few examples of operas involving grizzly adventures.
Anyone who attends opera performances regularly at a local opera company develops a relationship with a whole group of people whom he or she may not know personally: The chorus.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, British soprano Lucy Crowe will make her Lincoln Center debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival. Previous entries in my series of “Unsung Singers” were artists further along in their careers who I feel deserve more recognition. Perhaps in the case of Ms. Crowe “unsung” should suggest that she has not yet performed in places where I could attend. Most of her career thus far has been in the United Kingdom.
On WQX-Aria, Fred Plotkin considers the operatic potential of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, including whether the character of the bear should have a singing part.
The rehearsal process for an opera production is long and complex. Yet many younger of conductors don't dedicate themselves to working with singers properly, writes Fred Plotkin, which will be bad for the future of opera.