This is the first of what will be an occasional series about prima donnas, those irresistible singers whose talents and larger-than-life personalities never fail to fascinate and inspire opera fans.
Weber's Der Freischütz has been unjustly ignored outside of the German-speaking world, writes Fred Plotkin. Yet this opera foreshadows much of what followed.
An opera about George III, who reigned from 1760 to 1820, was written by Peter Maxwell Davies in the late 1960s and is called Eight Songs for a Mad King. This 33-minute work is a searing account of madness.
Soprano Alida Ferrarini, who died last week, was one of the most idiomatic interpreters of the light soprano repertory, mostly in Italian, writes Fred Plotkin in this appreciation.
Blogger Fred Plotkin addresses some basic ideas for the singer (and, to a lesser extent, all self-employed creative people) about how to manage your life so that art and commerce can happily coexist.
Most aspiring opera singers must find ways to pay the bills and student loans while aiming for the stage. Some get day jobs, more than a few go to Europe. Blogger Fred Plotkin considers the operatic paycheck.
Singers lead a rough life. They travel a great deal, being exposed to airplanes, jet lag, unfamiliar food, and people with germs who gush too long and too close. The result: a nonstop battle against sickness.
"I have heard more than a few conductors remark, when asked if there are any compensations for the inevitable fact that we are all getting older, that for a maestro his 70s can be a golden time," writes Fred Plotkin."
Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin writes of the State Choir of Latvia which he heard while attending a concert at Lucern, Switzerland.
Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin's thoughts on relevance in opera in an art form that is constantly being reframed in a world where events unfold at an accelerated rate.
When the announcement came that Alexander Pereira had been selected as the next chief of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, smartphones all over the music world commenced to vibrate ceaselessly.
If you stroll down Philadelphia’s Broad Street, one of the city’s grand thoroughfares, you will notice that one prime section, not far from City Hall, is known as the Walk of Fame. It honors illustrious Philadelphians in the arts with their names in stars on the pavement. This is a positive indication of the values of this historic cradle of the American Republic.
"There has been a stunning revival of opera in unusual places this year, much of it in spring and summer, a period when opera offerings were once meager," writes Fred Plotkin. Here are a few highlights.
"I used to have a slight depression when the Met ended its season," writes Fred Plotkin. But a busy crop of smaller opera companies serves as a needed pick-me-up.
"You don’t need me to tell you that San Francisco has a lot to like," writes Fred Plotkin. Along with its food, art, weather, sports and other virtues, that includes great opera.
Blogger Fred Plotkin addresses the question that that he is asked most often: “How/why can you like Wagner?” The answer: It's complicated.
Two current exhibits at the Met Museum prompt blogger Fred Plotkin to consider how "singers need to be taught how to wear costumes, not only for proper movement but for creation of character."
With 65 operas, Alessandro Scarlatti is considered by many scholars to be the most important Italian opera composer between Monteverdi and Rossini. But he's not so well known to audiences.
A documentary about the rehearsal for a new production of La Traviata at the 2011 Aix-en-Provence reminds blogger Fred Plotkin of the French town's mix of charm and beauty.
In opera, and not only, sisters are doing it for themselves. It seems that everywhere I look and listen lately, there is a suora, soeur, cесtра or schwester on an operatic stage. I am in the midst of attending my 47th complete Ring Cycle (yes, I know...) and am writing this just after hearing a musically gratifying performance of Die Walküre at the Met. Deborah Voigt has added colors and texture to her Walküre Brünnhilde since I first heard it two years ago. It is always heartening to see an artist who deepens her approach to a role rather then simply repeat what she has already done.