“She Leads Those Who Dare To Be Different”: Lady Gaga goes Political (from the NY Times)

Way to go GAGA!!! This pop icon has influenced every facet of American culture and catered to those who “just don’t fit in,” by making it “o.k” to be “weird,” or “different.”  She calls her fans, “little freaks,” to recall the fact that she herself has carried this label throughout her life.  Now, Lady Gaga has become the leader of those who dare to be different and I say, “All the power to you, Gaga!” Yesterday, she dipped her toes in the tumultuous waters that are American politics and dared to use her now internationally desired voice for the purposes of political propaganda.  Brava Gaga! Here’s the latest from the NY Times.

Lady Gaga Goes Political in Maine

Lady Gaga spoke to supporters of gay rights gathered in Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Me., on Monday for a rally supporting the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Published: September 20, 2010

PORTLAND, Me. — There were no strobe lights, no outlandish costumes and only a mediocre sound system. But Lady Gaga was here, and the crowd jumped up and down, snapping photos as a whirl of platinum-blond hair emerged from an S.U.V. and walked up a concrete ramp to a tiny stage.
“There she is,” a girl shrieked. Not the typical reception for someone who is on hand to deal with a Congressional filibuster.

Lady Gaga, the pop music sensation whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, was here to make an impassioned speech to the crowd of college students, parents with small children, teenagers and service members calling for the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

A military authorization bill being considered by the Senate this week would repeal the 17-year-old policy, which allows gay and bisexual people to serve as long as they do not disclose their orientation or engage in homosexual acts.

Supporters of a repeal are not sure they have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster. Maine has become the last-minute battleground for them because its two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, are publicly undecided on the issue.

“Equality is the prime rib of America, but because I am gay, I don’t get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat my country has to offer,” Lady Gaga said, referencing a dress she wore last week to the MTV Video Music Awards that was made out of cuts of steak.

“Shouldn’t everyone deserve to wear the same meat dress I do?” she said.

In recent weeks Lady Gaga, who has long supported gay rights, has made repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” a personal mission. Last week, she appeared alongside four discharged service members whom she took to the awards show, then took on Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, on Twitter and made a YouTube video calling for the policy’s repeal.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which organized the Maine event, said his group reached out to associates of Lady Gaga weeks ago.

“She said: ‘I want to be strategic. I’ll go to Washington, but I’m not sure there are any votes in Washington,’ ” Mr. Sarvis said. She finished a concert in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday night and drove 15 hours in her tour bus to get here for a 5 p.m. appearance.

Lady Gaga called on Senators Snowe and Collins and Senator Scott P. Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, to support a repeal.

In an e-mail, Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for Ms. Collins, said that the senator was the only Republican on the Armed Forces Committee to vote for a repeal and that “she believes that our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable to serve our country.”

Ms. Collins, however, is calling for an open debate on the issue and for allowing committee members to offer amendments to the bill.

In a statement, Ms. Snowe said that the law was due “for a thorough review,” but that she wanted a comprehensive study completed before a vote was taken.

Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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Remembering Maria Callas at the dawn of the 2010/11 Operatic Season

Yesterday marked the 33rd anniversary of the death of one of the greatest singing actresses to grace the operatic stage, “La Divina,” Maria Callas. At the dawn of the new operatic season, with the Met Opening with “Das Rhinegold,” and the COC opening with “Aida,” I recall the spirit of this remarkable woman whose presence is sorely missed.  It’s interesting to watch how newspapers and magazines rarely remember her passing anymore, except for say Opera News or other subject based publications, when in retrospect Maria Callas was to Opera what Martin Luther King was to African American Civil Rights.  She brought a type of glamour and star quality to opera that had perhaps not been so blatant in the past.  Although she began her operatic career like many other singers, singing smaller roles and performing in studio recitals, her quick-wit, impeccable precision, and musical aptitude rapidly blossomed her into one of the most renowned and prestigious personages in musical history.

Not to date myself, but Callas died 11 months before I was born and so I feel a little let down that I never got to hear this tour-de-force while she was alive.  Even though, I retain infinite respect, admiration, and certainly devotion.  Callas had a voice that was unmistakable in its genetic makeup.  Although it may not be marked as the most beautiful voice to have existed, it was certainly an instrument of magnificent proportion, and frankly, I think it was beautiful (so there!).  The “squillo” she was able to create and the precision of her coloratura and stylistic understanding are models for any young singer and professionals alike.

We might also attribute Madame Callas with accolades for reviving Bel Canto.  Beginning with “I Puritani” in 1949, she ventured into “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Il Pirata,” “La Traviata,” “Medea,” “Anna Bolena,” and many others.  It was her ability to sing these roles and also the larger dramatic roles that remain a remarkable trait of this singular artist.  As a result, many have attempted to categorize this voice and even criticize it (How dare you!).  Whether Callas was originally a “mezzo,” a “dramatic,” or a “coloratura,” is a rather trite manner of discussing this great artist.  What we should be recalling is that she was able to sing with a voice that was immediately recognizable and also capable of the most difficult technical feats, yet filled with emotion and possibility.  In the end, it is more often recounted that she “overdid it and therefore lost her voice.” I, for one, stand in complete opposition to those who feel that they have the right to criticize Callas or the reason for her vocal decline.  Frankly, I don’t think her “voice” declined at all.  It was more her heart and soul that were diminished and crushed by someone whom she desperately loved.  We cannot expect that a woman of this will, of this prowess, who took nothing lightly, would take such matters of the heart lightly.  This is what resulted in the tragic aftermath and premature passing of this great woman.

In my thoughts yesterday, as I listened to her in my car while commuting in and out of town, I was reminded of the affinity I felt for her and have always felt.  I loved her vigour, her fire, and her passion, so much so that I have always held developed these attributes in my own artistic character.  Likewise, I loved her pathos and her willingness to accept pain and know how to project the reality of it in her music.  Years ago, I met and sang for the great Fedora Barbieri, who often sang with Callas.  Although I respected Barbieri for her own contributions, I trembled at the fact that she had often stood and blended her voice with someone I admired so deeply.  I asked her, at that time, how Callas was, and she answered, “Eh, Callas era Callas” (Callas was Callas).  A perfect answer….she was simply that, CALLAS.  No other explanation is required.

“We miss you and you are remembered always”

Tuesday Sept 14, on Met Opera Radio

Zinka Milanov’s Gioconda, today at 6pm

Tuesday 9/14
6:00 AM ET Verdi: I Vespri Siciliani
4/12/1975-Levine; Niska, Lewis, Milnes, Plishka

9:00 AM ET Berg: Wozzeck
12/31/05-Levine; Held, Dalayman, Clark, Forbis, Fink, Cutler, Grove

12:00 PM ET R. Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos
1/5/1985-Davis; Norman, Cochran, Rolandi, Ewing, Weller, Duesing

The Price/Corelli “Trovatore”

3:00 PM ET Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila
4/16/1977-Ehrling; Chauvet, Cossotto, Walker, Díaz

6:00 PM ET Ponchielli: La Gioconda
1/3/1953-Cleva; Milanov, Baum, Barbieri, Warren, Siepi, Madeira

9:00 PM ET Britten: Peter Grimes
12/31/1994-Conlon; Rolfe Johnson, Fleming, Opie, Walker, Howard

12:00 AM ET Verdi: Il Trovatore
2/4/1961-Cleva; Corelli, Price, Sereni, Dalis, Wilderman

Leontyne Price as Leonora at Midnight

Monday on Met Opera Radio (September 13, 2010)

Monday 9/13
6:00 AM ET Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini
12/27/2003-Levine; Bayrakdarian, Giordani, Del Carlo, Carfizzi

9:00 AM ET Donizetti: Don Pasquale
1/20/1979-Rescigno; Bacquier, Sills, Kraus, Hagegärd

12:00 PM ET Wagner: Götterdämmerung
4/22/1989-Levine; Behrens, Krämer, Raffell, Harries, Salminen, Ludwig, Wlaschiha

6:00 PM ET Mozart: Don Giovanni
2/15/2003-Cambreling; Mattei, Radvanovsky, Diener, Netrebko, Trost, Furlanetto

9:00 PM ET Levy: Mourning Becomes Electra
4/1/1967-Mehta; Lear, Reardon, Collier, Milnes, Macurdy

12:00 AM ET Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
1/26/1991-Levine; Millo, Pavarotti, Nucci, Quivar, Blackwell

Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today on Met Opera Radio

Sunday, September, 12, 2010

6:00 AM ET Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
3/7/1959-Böhm; Edelmann, Nordmo-Lövberg, Feiersinger, Franke, Dönch, Resnik

12:00 PM ET Prokofiev: The Gambler
3/31/2001-Gergiev; Galouzine, Guryakova, Alexashkin, Gassiev, Obraztsova

3:00 PM ET Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
12/6/1986-Domingo; Kraus, Gasdia, Plishka, Harris, Schexnayder

6:00 PM ET Verdi: I Lombardi
1/15/1994¬-Levine; Flanigan, Pavarotti, Beccaria, Plishka

9:00 PM ET The Met on Record: Gounod: Faust (1951)
Cleva; Steber, Conley, Siepi, Guarrera, Roggero

12:00 AM ET Rossini: La Cenerentola
3/11/2000-Campanella; Larmore, Gimenez, Corbelli, Alaimo, Relyea

Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment