Giuseppe Verdi understood the operatic potential of the tragedy Macbeth and made it his first work based on Shakespeare. It may be a rare case of an opera improving upon the original play, notes Fred Plotkin on WQX-Aria.
There is a generation of people who work in the performing arts, mostly in their 50s and 60s, who are known as “Gilbert’s Children.” All of us had the same master instructor and draw on his wisdom as if it were genetically part of who we are. Gilbert Hemsley (1936-1983) was the kind of inspiring teacher one is lucky to have. He drew the best out of each student and knew how to shine a light on every person’s strengths.
The term maestro has two meanings. It is a conductor, of course, but it also means teacher. To some degree, every conductor is also a teacher, but some few of them so fully embrace pedagogy that it seems to dwarf their other achievements. A few maestros are also composers. Mahler and Leonard Bernstein both belong in this category, as did Mendelssohn in his short life.
Many of the world's great opera companies double as ballet companies, including those in London, Paris and Russia. But has anyone lately mentioned the Metropolitan Opera Ballet? On WQX-Aria, blogger Fred Plotkin has a proposal for the Met.
Opera fans know that Verdi wrote three brilliant operas based on Shakespeare: Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff. And then there is the great Shakespeare opera that Verdi struggled to create, but did not: Il Re Lear. Here's why.
On WQX-Aria Fred Plotkin reports on the Caramoor revival of Rossini's William Tell and asks: "What opera has been forgotten, ignored or badly served that you would present in five years?"
On WQX-Aria, Fred Plotkin reports on the revival of the Terrence McNally play "Master Class." "Daly fully stakes her claim as heir to a role that has prismatically brought forth distinct traits of Callas with each actress who plays her."
You may know the famous William Tell Overture but what about the opera it introduces? WQX-Aria blogger Fred Plotkin considers why it is often referred to as Rossini’s masterpiece.
Kansas recently became the nation's first state without an arts agency. On WQX-Aria, Fred Plotkin considers the implications of that dubious distinction, and why "the arts will be our legacy as a civilization long after we forget who our politicians were."
Alice Plotkin (August 28, 1947-June 25, 2011), my beloved cousin, died this past weekend in New York, the city of her birth and the place where she most thrived.
For the finale to his second season as music director, Alan Gilbert chose to stage Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Fred Plotkin offers an assessment of its significance in the operatic canon.
As Tony Award winner Tyne Daly makes her return to Broadway as Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's biographical drama, "Master Class," Fred Plotkin considers the many actresses who have portrayed the famous soprano.
Riccardo Muti concluded his five-year tenure as the artistic director of the Pfingstfestspiele (Whitsun) Festival in Salzburg on June 13 by playing one of his strong suits: the music of Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842). Muti has been a leading interpreter and champion of the Florence-born composer who is most famous for his opera, Medea.
On WQX-Aria, blogger Fred Plotkin claims a special feeling for the mezzo-soprano voices. "There is a warmth and sensuality to middle range voices (including the baritone) that exerts a special appeal." Alaska-born mezzo Vivica Genaux is in a case in point.
From Salzburg, Fred Plotkin reports on a revival of I Due Figaro, a forgotten operatic tale of Figaro, the character famously popularized by Mozart and Rossini. This one, however, comes via "a production without imagination."
To be a great maestro, less is more, writes Fred Plotkin on WQX-Aria. "The best conductors sort out almost all of the stylistic and musical issues in rehearsal, leaving themselves and musicians free to just play and breathe spontaneously."
Experiencing the Met's radio broadcasts is no longer an ephemeral experience, writes blogger Fred Plotkin on WQX-Aria. The Met, along with Sony, has begun to take some jewels out of the vault, including recordings of Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner operas.
At the moment, there are few top Italian female singers known to international audiences, writes Fred Plotkin on WQX-Aria. But two getting fresh attention and are well worth hearing: Anna Caterina Antonacci and Daniela Barcellona.
As the news of death of the great bass Giorgio Tozzi (January 8, 1923-May 30, 2011) has begun to spread, a few people have asked, “Where in Italy was he from?” The answer was Chicago, writes Fred Plotkin on WQX-Aria.