Join TLV for a live chat during the Met’s Season Opener.

A link to the chatroom will be available here on Monday night. Come share in the love of opera.

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Published in: on September 21, 2013 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Survey: Tell TLV what you think of the Met’s Roster of Singers this season

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Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 4:01 am  Leave a Comment  

New Poll: Which Operas Are You Most Looking Forward To Hearing/Seeing This Season at the Metropolitan Opera?

Cast your votes here!!!

Met Chandaliers

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Met Opera Interior

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Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 2:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Listen to the Metropolitan Opera Season Premiere: Eugene Onegin on Monday Night!!!

This week on Met Opera Radio (accessible via Sirius/XM Radio or on the Met Opera website), you can hear Anna Netrebko in the season’s premiere of Eugene Onegin this Monday night at 6:30pm. 

 

Click here to Listen Live to the Met Broadcast

Anna Netrebko

Monday, September 23, 2013

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Puccini: Madama Butterfly

12/17/1977-Patanè; Scotto, Aragall, Love, Edwards

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte
3/4/1967-Krips; Raskin, Shirley, Peters, Macurdy, Uppman

Verdi: Luisa Miller
12/11/1971-Levine; Maliponte, Alexander, MacNeil, Giaiotti, Plishka, Dunn

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

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin (OPENING NIGHT GALA/SEASON PREMIERE – LIVE FROM THE MET) Gergiev; Kwiecien, Netrebko, Beczala, Volkova, Tanovitski

Verdi: La Forza del Destino
3/20/1954-Stiedry; Milanov, Penno, Warren, Hines, Madeira, Pechner

 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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Massenet: Werther
4/16/1988-Fournet; Kraus, von Stade,Stilwell, Upshaw

Bellini: La Sonnambula
12/21/1968-Bonynge; Sutherland, Alexander, Giaiotti, Boky

Verdi: Il Trovatore
3/16/1957-Rudolf; Baum, Stella, Merrill, Madeira, Moscona

Wagner: Die Walküre
12/6/1941-Leinsdorf; Traubel, Melchior, Varnay, Schorr, Thorborg

Mozart: Così fan tutte (SEASON PREMIERE – LIVE FROM THE MET)
Levine; Phillips, Polenzani, Leonard, Pogossov, de Niese, Muraro

12:00 AM ET Berg: Wozzeck
12/31/2005-Levine; Held, Dalayman, Clark, Forbis, Fink

 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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Wagner: Parsifal

4/12/2003-Gergiev; Domingo, Urmana, Struckmann, Pape, Putilin, Halfvarson

Strauss: Salome
2/17/1962-Rosenstock; Lewis, Vinay, Thebom, Cassel,Olvis

Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
2/7/1998-Young; Leech, Dessay, Racette, Larmore, Morris, Mentzer

Gounod: Faust
2/26/1972-Rich; Domingo, Zylis-Gara, Sereni, Tozzi

Mozart: La Clemenza di Tito
5/7/2005-Levine; Lopardo, Diener, von Otter, Murphy, Connolly

 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Puccini: Madama Butterfly
12/17/1977-Patanè; Scotto, Aragall, Love, Edwards

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Verdi: Luisa Miller
12/11/1971-Levine; Maliponte, Alexander, MacNeil, Giaiotti, Plishka, Dunn

Wagner: Die Walküre
12/6/1941-Leinsdorf; Traubel, Melchior, Varnay, Schorr, Thorborg

Verdi: La Forza del Destino
3/20/1954-Stiedry; Milanov, Penno, Warren, Hines, Madeira, Pechner

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte
3/4/1967-Krips; Raskin, Shirley, Peters, Macurdy, Uppman

6:00 PM ET 9:00 PM ET

Verdi: Il Trovatore
3/16/1957-Rudolf; Baum, Stella, Merrill, Madeira, Moscona

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

 

 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Berg: Wozzeck

12/31/2005-Levine; Held, Dalayman, Clark, Forbis, Fink

Mozart: La Clemenza di Tito
5/7/2005-Levine; Lopardo, Diener, von Otter, Murphy, Connolly

Massenet: Werther
4/16/1988-Fournet; Kraus, von Stade,Stilwell, Upshaw

Bellini: La Sonnambula
12/21/1968-Bonynge; Sutherland, Alexander, Giaiotti, Boky

Puccini: Madama Butterfly
12/17/1977-Patanè; Scotto, Aragall, Love, Edwards

Strauss: Salome
2/17/1962-Rosenstock; Lewis, Vinay, Thebom, Cassel,Olvis

Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
2/7/1998-Young; Leech, Dessay, Racette, Larmore, Morris, Mentzer

 

Saturday, Sunday 28, 2013

Gounod: Faust
2/26/1972-Rich; Domingo, Zylis-Gara, Sereni, Tozzi

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Verdi: La Forza del Destino
3/20/1954-Stiedry; Milanov, Penno, Warren, Hines, Madeira, Pechner

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

Shostakovich: The Nose (SEASON PREMIERE – LIVE FROM THE MET)
Gergiev; Szot, Popov, Ognovenko

Verdi: Luisa Miller
12/11/1971-Levine; Maliponte, Alexander, MacNeil, Giaiotti, Plishka, Dunn

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte
3/4/1967-Krips; Raskin, Shirley, Peters, Macurdy, Uppman

Wagner: Die Walküre
12/6/1941-Leinsdorf; Traubel, Melchior, Varnay, Schorr, Thorborg

 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

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Verdi: Il Trovatore

3/16/1957-Rudolf; Baum, Stella, Merrill, Madeira, Moscona

Gounod: Faust
2/26/1972-Rich; Domingo, Zylis-Gara, Sereni, Tozzi

Wagner: Parsifal
4/12/2003-Gergiev; Domingo, Urmana, Struckmann, Pape, Putilin, Halfvarson

Massenet: Werther
4/16/1988-Fournet; Kraus, von Stade,Stilwell, Upshaw

The Met on Record: Verdi: La Traviata (1991) Levine; Studer, Pavarotti, Pons

Bellini: La Sonnambula
12/21/1968-Bonynge; Sutherland, Alexander, Giaiotti, Boky

Remembering La Divina

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Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 3:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Soprano Raina Kabaivanska Speaks of the Vecchia Scuola in Opera News

Reunion: Raina Kabaivanska

Steven Mercurio catches up with the great Bulgarian soprano who became one of verismo’s most thrilling performers.

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Photographed by Joseph Nemeth in Modena, Italy
© Joseph Nemeth 2013
When I first became interested in opera and singing, I used to be an avid reader of Opera News.  It was fascinating to read the articles and see the pictures of the singers on stage, and read about their thoughts on singing and acting, but in recent years I honestly haven’t read it as much as I used to.  This month, I decided to pick up the September issue, mainly because of Anna Netrebko’s face on the cover (her interview is also worth a read since she discusses other aspects of today’s school that are both conflicting and difficult) and was pleasantly surprised to find a feature on the Bulgarian Soprano Raina Kabaivanska.  Normally, I wouldn’t write a blog post on this sort of article but I feel it’s important to reiterate what Mme. Kabaivanska said and why.  
Immediately attractive to me was the mention of her studies at the Liceo Musicale di Viotti in Vercelli in 1959 and how her teachers immediately placed her in a specific repertoire.  There was none of this toying around in every genre and style, which is beneficial in many respects, but in regard to training an opera voice, perhaps the old school way of following a maestro or maestra’s indelible knowledge to guide a voice in a specific repertoire was more economical in the long run. Also, when young singers are spread out among repertoires they often become confused and aren’t sure where their voice should remain.  She wrote that her teacher immediately placed her in the Italian repertoire and she “began to focus on the major Italian roles–Nedda, Mimi, Desdemona, etc.” At one time, and many aficionados remember, there were separate wings at the Met in which specific singers were known for specializing in either the Italian, German, or French Repertoire.  Today, it seems that a soprano is supposed to sing everything and be jack of all trades, master of none.  That is not to say that one should not sing German opera if you are an Italian singer, but maybe the old school had it right….leave the singing of specific operas to those who can sing them best.  Would you rather hear Nilsson in Wagner or in Verdi? Caruso in Freischutz?  No thanks, at least not me.
Kabaivanska talks about pronunciation because most of what you are doing in bel canto is sustaining words (vowels) as opposed to sustaining sound.  She brings up the issue that in today’s school (if we must segregate the two) that singers aren’t as apt to focus on the word.  I tend to agree with her.  It isn’t just about sound, it’s about sound connected to your own natural innate one, your own voice…the one that speaks.  I won’t even get into the number of contrasting and contradicting technical schools I’ve come across in my life, but essentially “si canta come si parla” is a rule of thumb for this woman and I’m with her.
She discusses her first Tosca and her love of the role Francesca da Rimini, which she doesn’t classify as a Verismo opera.  She sees it more like “Strauss alla Italiana,” but what is most interesting is her discussion about the conductor’s role in preparing the singer to achieve a role successfully.  “Often in today’s musical environment, conductors find themselves in a situation where the singer is “prepared” or has learned the role in a particular way, with little interest in learning, sharing or discovering more,” she says.

“Those times were completely different!

We approached our work with much more humility.”

According to Mme. Kabaivanska, once you learn the music correctly, there is the learning of “tradition.” She recalls her first days with Maestro Fausto Cleva and how terrified she was to please him.  “Everyone respected the authority given to the position of the maestro.  It was important to get it right. But once again, these conductors had the insight to understand talent and how to help bring it out of everyone, which in my opinion is at present unfortunately and sadly missing,” she says.  Openly, she goes further to say that issues also plague the theatres in that they are being run by people who aren’t really qualified for the position.

I must say that I have always respected Mme. Kabaivanska, but I think my respect deepened for her in reading this because it really illuminates clearly the fact that two schools exist, but also that we as singers need to pay attention to those who were linked to that period of opera she discusses.  She belonged to opera of a different time.  Audiences did not want less or more, but they expected singers to follow in the tradition of Muzio, Tettrazzini, Ponselle, Cigna, then later Callas, Tebaldi, Sutherland, Favero, etc.  As generations pass, who is going to know about this tradition if today’s singers are not following in it.  There are, of course, those singers who are but there is no question that a distinct shift in technique and style is audible and no one can deny that. Personally and I think for many young singers, we want to cling to that “vecchia scuola” which is for some of us the “only” school.  Of course, this is my opinion and it is not the only one.  Many may disagree with me, but I hold to it and hope that when I open my mouth and my singers open their mouths that something of our attempt to belong to that tried and true tradition is present.

Kabaivanska

Kabaivanska

I respect deeply those singers like Mme. Kabaivanska and others who speak their mind and lived during that magnificent period of golden voices and excellence.  We can all learn from their continued devotion to the art form and by trying to place our feet gently and carefully within the giant footprints they left for us to follow.

Six Years Gone and Still His Voice Gleams Brilliant: In Tribute to Luciano Pavarotti

By Dr. Mary-Lou Vetere

Pavarotti End

The Greatest

His voice is unmistakable, individual, a ray of sunshine that gleams brighter even on the sunniest day, a thread of gold that blessed our lives for the limited time he was here.  Six years ago, the radio suddenly stopped its regular program and his voice began playing over the airwaves.  Who would have known the next information would be that this voice would now remain silent.  Luciano Pavarotti was simply the most beautiful voice in the world and then…in a fleeting moment, it was over.  What remains is a gaping hole that is meagrely filled by recordings and videos, pictures, and memories of those who heard and saw him live, but these things can never capture the larger-than-life essence that was this man.

Young Luciano 1

Young and handsome

Luciano Pavarotti was born in 1935 on the outskirts of Modena in Northern Italy, the son of Fernando Pavarotti, a baker and amateur tenor, and Adele Venturi, a cigar factory worker. Although he spoke fondly of his childhood, the family had little money; its four members were crowded into a two-room apartment. According to Pavarotti, his father had a fine tenor voice but rejected the possibility of a singing career because of nervousness. World War II forced the family out of the city in 1943. For the following year they rented a single room from a farmer in the neighbouring countryside, where the young Pavarotti developed an interest in farming.

After abandoning the dream of becoming a soccer goalkeeper, Pavarotti spent seven years in vocal training. Pavarotti’s earliest musical influences were his father’s recordings, most of them featuring the popular tenors of the day – Beniamino Gigli, Giovanni Martinelli, Tito Schipa, and Enrico Caruso. Pavarotti’s favourite tenor and idol was Giuseppe Di Stefano. He was also deeply influenced by Mario Lanza, saying, “In my teens I used to go to Mario Lanza movies and then come home and imitate him in the mirror”. At around the age of nine he began singing with his father in a small local church choir.

After what appears to have been a normal childhood with a typical interest in sports—in Pavarotti’s case soccer above all, he graduated from the Scuola Magistrale and faced the dilemma of a career choice. He was interested in pursuing a career as a professional soccer goalie, but his mother convinced him to train as a teacher. He subsequently taught in an elementary school for two years but finally allowed his interest in music to win out. Recognising the risk involved, his father gave his consent only reluctantly.

Pavarotti began the serious study of music in 1954 at the age of 19 with Arrigo Pola, a respected teacher and professional tenor in Modena who offered to teach him without remuneration. In 1955, he experienced his first singing success when he was a member of the Corale Rossini, a male voice choir from Modena that also included his father, which won first prize at the International Eistedfodd in Llangollen, Wales. He later said that this was the most important experience of his life, and that it inspired him to become a professional singer. At about this time Pavarotti first met Adua Veroni. They married in 1961.

When his teacher Arrigo Pola moved to Japan, Pavarotti became a student of Ettore Campogalliani who at that time was also teaching Pavarotti’s childhood friend, Mirella Freni, whose mother worked with Luciano’s mother in the cigar factory. Like Pavarotti, Freni was destined to operatic greatness; they were to share the stage many times and make memorable recordings together.

Just like many young singers, during his years of musical study, Pavarotti held part-time jobs in order to sustain himself – first as an elementary school teacher and then as an insurance salesman. The first six years of study resulted in only a few recitals, all in small towns and without pay. When a nodule developed on his vocal chords, causing a “disastrous” concert in Ferrara, he decided to give up singing. THANK GOD HE DIDN’T!!! Pavarotti attributed his immediate improvement to the psychological release connected with this decision. Whatever the reason, the nodule not only disappeared but, as he related in his autobiography, “Everything I had learned came together with my natural voice to make the sound I had been struggling so hard to achieve”.

Young Luciano 2

Getting ready with that mischievous smile

Pavarotti began his career as a tenor in smaller regional Italian opera houses, making his debut as Rodolfo in La Boheme at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia in April 1961. He made his first international appearance in La Traviata in Belgrade. Very early in his career, on 23 February 1963, he debuted at the Vienna State Opera in the same role. In March and April 1963 Vienna saw Pavarotti again as Rodolfo and as Duca di Mantova in Rigoletto. The same year saw his first concert outside Italy when he sang in Dundalk, Ireland for the St Cecilia’s Gramophone Society and his Royal Opera House debut, where he replaced an indisposed Giuseppe Di Stefano as Rodolfo.

With Sutherland

With the great Joan Sutherland

While generally successful, Pavarotti’s early roles did not immediately propel him into the stardom that he would later enjoy. An early coup involved his connection with Joan Sutherland (and her conductor husband, Richard Bonynge), who in 1963 had sought a young tenor taller than herself to take along on her tour to Australia. With his commanding physical presence, Pavarotti proved ideal.The two sang some forty performances over two months, and Pavarotti later credited Sutherland for the breathing technique that would sustain him over his career. He made his American début with the Greater Miami Opera in February 1965, singing in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Joan Sutherland.  The tenor scheduled to perform that night became ill with no understudy. As Sutherland was traveling with him on tour, she recommended the young Pavarotti as he was well acquainted with the role.

Shortly after, on 28 April, Pavarotti made his La Scala debut in the revival of the famous Franco Zeffirelli production of La Bohème, with his childhood friend Mirella Freni singing Mimi and Herbert von Karajan conducting. Karajan had requested the singer’s engagement. After an extended Australian tour, he returned to La Scala, where he added Tebaldo from I Capuletti e i Montecchi to his repertoire on 26 March 1966, with Giacomo Aragall as Romeo. His first appearance as Tonio in Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment took place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 2 June of that year. It was his performances of this role that would earn him the title of “King of the High Cs”.

Being nasty

Being a tad nasty with Renata Scotto.  That mischievousness latent here.

He scored another major triumph in Rome on 20 November 1969 when he sang in I Lombari opposite Renata Scotto. This was recorded on a private label and widely distributed, as were various recordings of his I Capuleti e i Montecchi, usually with Aragall. His major breakthrough in the United States came on 17 February 1972, in a production of La fille du régiment at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, in which he drove the crowd into a frenzy with his nine effortless high C’s in the signature aria. He achieved a record seventeen curtain calls. Pavarotti sang his international recital début at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri on 1 February 1973, as part of the college’s Fine Arts Program, now known as the Harriman-Jewell Concert Series. Perspiring due to nerves and a lingering cold, the tenor clutched a handkerchief throughout the début. The prop became a signature part of his solo performances.

With Price

With the fabulous Leontyne Price

He began to give frequent television performances, starting with his performances as Rodolfo (La bohème) in the first Live from the Met telecast in March 1977, which attracted one of the largest audiences ever for a televised opera. He won many Grammy awards. In 1976, Pavarotti debuted at the Salzburg Festival, appearing in a solo recital on 31 July, accompanied by pianist Leone Magiera. Pavarotti returned to the festival in 1978 with a recital and as the Italian singer in Der Rosenkavalier in 1983 with Idomeneo, and both in 1985 and 1988 with solo recitals. In 1979, he was profiled in a cover story in the weekly magazine Time. That same year saw Pavarotti’s return to the Vienna State Opera after an absence of fourteen years. With Herbert von Karajan conducting, Pavarotti sang Manrico in Il Trovatore In 1978, he appeared in a solo recital on Live from Lincoln Center.

Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti

With the lovely Mirella Freni, his childhood friend and lifetime devotee

At the beginning of the 1980s, he set up The Pavarotti International Voice Competition for young singers, performing with the winners in 1982 in excerpts ofLa bohème and L’elisir d’amore. The second competition, in 1986, staged excerpts of La bohème and Un ballo in maschera. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his career, he brought the winners of the competition to Italy for gala performances of La bohème in Modena and Geneoa and then to China where they staged performances of La bohème in Beijing (Peking). To conclude the visit, Pavarotti performed the inaugural concert in the Great Hall of People before 10,000 people, receiving a standing ovation for nine effortless high Cs. The third competition in 1989 again staged performances of L’elisir d’amore and Un ballo in maschera. The winners of the fifth competition accompanied Pavarotti in performances in Philadelphia in 1997.

In the mid-1980s, Pavarotti returned to two opera houses that had provided him with important breakthroughs, the Vienna State Opera and La Scala. Vienna saw Pavarotti as Rodolfo in La bohème with Carlos Kleiber conducting and again Mirella Freni was Mimi; as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore; as Radames in Aida conducted by Lorin Maazel; as Rodolfo in Luisa Miller; and as Gustavo in Un ballo in maschera conducted by Claudio Abbado. In 1996, Pavarotti appeared for the last time at the Staatsoper in Andrea Chénier.

With Millo

With his beloved and devoted friend Aprile Millo, Luciano

and she recorded one of the greatest Ballo in Maschera’s in history.

In 1985, Pavarotti sang Radames at La Scala opposite Maria Chiara in a Luca Ronconi production conducted by Maazel, recorded on video. His performance of the aria “Celeste Aida” received a two-minute ovation on the opening night. He was reunited with Mirella Freni for the San Francisco Opera production ofLa bohème in 1988, also recorded on video. In 1991, he recorded with his dear and devoted friend, American Soprano Aprile Millo, one of the greatest Ballo in Maschera’s in history, with James Levine at the podium and Leo Nucci.  In 1992, La Scala saw Pavarotti in a new Zeffirelli production of Don Carlos, conducted by Riccardo Muti. Pavarotti’s performance was heavily criticized by some observers and booed by parts of the audience.

With his buddies

With his buddies, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras

Pavarotti became even better known throughout the world in 1990 when his rendition of the aria Nessun Dorma from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot was taken as the theme song of BBC’s TV coverage of the 1990 FIFA World CUp in Italy. The aria achieved pop status and remained his trademark song. This was followed by the hugely successful Three Tenors concert, held on the eve of the World Cup final at the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome with fellow tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras and conductor Zubin Mehta, which became the biggest selling classical record of all time. A highlight of the concert, in which Pavarotti hammed up a famous portion of di Capua’s “O Sole Mio” and was mimicked by Domingo and Carreras to the delight of the audience, became one of the most memorable moments in contemporary operatic history.  In June 1993, more than 500,000 listeners gathered for his free performance on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park, while millions more around the world watched on television. The following September, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, he sang for an estimated crowd of 300,000.  On 12 December 1998, he became the first (and, to date, only) opera singer to perform on Saturday Night Live, singing alongside Vanessa Williams.  In 1998, Pavarotti was presented with the Grammy Legend Award.

Amidst the successes, the type of talent that Pavarotti possessed was also the cause of bitter attacks, as is often the case when people are either jealous of someone’s success or simply when something is so remarkably different and stands out so drastically that the only way to deal with it is to criticize it.  For example, In 2004, one of Pavarotti’s former managers, Herbert Breslin, published a book, The King & I. Seen by many as bitter and sensationalistic, it is critical of the singer’s acting (in opera), his inability to read music well and learn parts, and his personal conduct, although acknowledging their success together.  How petty that someone who worked for this wonderful man had nothing better to do but write sensationalistic material for his own gain.  One can imagine how Pavarotti must’ve felt having to hear this type of news…and yet he handled it with persistence and always a kind smile.  I write this for those singers who think that someone who performed at Pavarotti’s level was not without controversy, strife, and criticism.  The criticism only gets more volatile at that level and unfortunately comes with the territory.  

He received an enormous number of awards and honours, including Kennedy Center Honours in 2001. He also holds two Guinness World Records: one for receiving the most curtain calls and another for the best-selling classical album (In Concert by The Three Tenors).

Pavarotti began his farewell tour in 2004, at the age of 69, performing one last time in old and new locations, after more than four decades on the stage. On 13 March 2004, Pavarotti gave his last performance in an opera at the Metropolitan Opera for which he received a long standing ovation for his role as the painter Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca. On 1 December 2004, he announced a 40-city farewell tour. Pavarotti and his manager, Terri Robson, commissioned the Worldwide Farewell Tour. His last full-scale performance was in December 2005.

On 10 February 2006, Pavarotti sang “Nessun Dorma” at the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Turin, Italy, at his final performance. In the last act of the opening ceremony, his performance received the longest and loudest ovation of the night from the international crowd. For many of us…this was the last time we saw him or heard him.

While undertaking an international “farewell tour,” Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic in July 2006. The tenor fought back against the implications of this diagnosis, undergoing major abdominal surgery and making plans for the resumption and conclusion of his singing commitments. He died at his home in Modena on 6 September 2007. Within hours of his death, his manager, Terri Robson, noted in an e-mail statement, “The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterized his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness”.

Pavarotti’s funeral was held in the Modena Cathedral.  The Frecce Tricolori, the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian airforce, flew overhead, leaving green-white-red smoke trails. After a funeral procession through the centre of Modena, Pavarotti’s coffin was taken the final ten kilometres to Montale Rangone, a village part of Castelnuovo Rangone, and was entombed in the Pavarotti family crypt. The funeral, in its entirety, was also telecast live on CNN. The Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival Hall flew black flags in mourning.Tributes were published by many opera houses, such as London’s Royal Opera House. The Italian soccer giant Juventus F.C, of which Pavarotti was a lifelong fan, was represented at the funeral and posted a farewell message on its website which said: “Ciao Luciano, black-and-white heart” referring to the team’s famous stripes when they play on their home ground.

How many lives he touched, and not just singers and opera aficionados.  People the world over who were in horrible situations, marital strife, dying children, world suffering, stopped to hear the voice of this man because it soothed something that nothing else could soothe.  No alcohol, cigarette, drug, or sex could tame the soul like Pavarotti’s sunny, warm, and soothing voice.  It might’ve been an interesting idea to bottle him up and sell him as a tonic.  The proverbial saying is that one never appreciates something until it is gone, and although Luciano Pavarotti was appreciated in life, I think he is appreciated more today than ever. 

Why is it that two little folds of skin in the throat, met by air from the lungs, can manifest the insanity that overcomes an audience and send them into a complete frenzy?  Not to be overly religious here, but God just made it this way and he certainly put something extra special in the throat of Luciano Pavarotti.  When he was trying to play soccer or worked as a math teacher, did he ever imagine that in 2013, six years after his death he would be the standard by which all tenors are evaluated? Every tenor in the world is compared to this man and although there are some fabulous voices singing today, none can quite match the glory that came from that throat.  Not to be morbid, but when he died, I did not sleep well for days because I could not rid myself of the thought that now entombed, that throat would slowly decay…I often wonder if it ever did or if like the relics of the saints, his was kept intact. No one will ever know. Yes, I adored this man almost obsessively.  I recall getting thrown out of a historical conference once because he had been spoken of poorly. I almost ate the speaker alive for doing so, and I would do it again.  For all he was, and for what he gave, for the tears that would slowly and quietly fall down the face of my great-grandfather, who had been an Italian POW kept prisoner in Africa during WWII, whenever he heard Pavarotti’s voice, for the warmth he made at every Christmas when mom would put on his O Holy Night, for the inspiration that he was and remains for me and anyone who attempts to make the “sound” from those two folds of skin, there aren’t words. 

We wait every day for another voice like yours to appear, and like yours there will never be another.  

You were the solitary, singular spirit of true love manifested in sound.

God rest your soul forever, Luciano Pavarotti

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NEW!!! PRESS RELEASE FROM COC: Tenor MICHAEL FABIANO TO SING RODOLFO IN TORONTO’S SEASON OPENER

Fabiano

Fabiano comes to the COC!!!

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY ANNOUNCES LA BOHÈME CAST CHANGE

 

Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company regrets to announce that Mexican tenor David Lomelí, who was scheduled to perform the role of Rodolfo in the upcoming production of Puccini’s La Bohème, has had to withdraw for health reasons. Lomelí was scheduled to sing eight of the production’s 12 performances. In his place, the COC has cast two of the most exciting young tenors in the opera world today: Dimitri Pittas (October 3, 6, 9, 12) and Michael Fabiano (October 16, 19, 27, 30). They share the role of Rodolfo with the previously announced Italian-American tenor Eric Margiore (October 18, 22, 25, 29).

Pittas

American tenor Dimitri Pittas has been called a “rising young singer of unaffected charm” by the New York Observer and compared in look and sound to a young Plácido Domingo. He made his COC debut in 2011 as the Duke inRigoletto, and is scheduled to appear with the company this winter in a role debut performance as Riccardo, starring opposite Canada’s great diva soprano Adrianne Pieczonka in Un ballo in maschera. Pittas has appeared on leading opera stages throughout North America and Europe, including debuts with the Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna State Opera and Royal Opera House Covent Garden. In addition to singing Rodolfo with the Metropolitan Opera, he has appeared on the Met stage as Macduff in Macbeth, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and Tamino in The Magic Flute. Pittas most recently appeared with Opera Frankfurt, Houston Grand Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago as Rodolfo and made his role debut in the title role of Don Carlo at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, France.

Opera Michael Fabiano

American tenor Michael Fabiano has received glowing praise from the New York Times for “his soaring, thrilling singing”, most recently for a concert at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall and a “superlative performance [that] elicited unbridled responses from the audience.” It’s a sentiment shared by the Wall Street Journal, which said after Fabiano’s 2011 appearance with English National Opera that his performance showed “why he is in such demand in the big opera houses.” In recent years, in addition to ENO, Fabiano has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, La Scala and Dresden Semperoper as well as in concert performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Oslo Symphony. He makes his COC debut as Rodolfo.

The COC’s production of La Bohème runs October 3, 6, 9, 12, 16, 18, 19, 22, 25, 27, 29 and 30, 2013 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Visit coc.ca for complete cast information.

Tickets are available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Ticket prices for La Bohème range from $12 – $365(includes applicable taxes). Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera Under 30 tickets as of September 21 at 10 a.m., online at coc.ca, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.

Opera and the Seven Deadly Sins

By:  Mary-Lou Vetere, PhD

Image

Vanity, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Lust….

Mix these frightening behaviours with Brad Pitt, Morgen Freeman, and Kevin Spacey, and you are watching “Seven” in which the Seven Deadly Sins are outrageously represented in a series of gut-wrenching murders.  The spectacular thing about the film “Seven” was not that it was about a serial killer, but that each sin was represented in the detailed, meticulous, deranged mind of the killer.  The seven deadly sins aren’t new, even if the film brought new and modern attention to an old biblical detailing of what you ought to avoid if you’re going to live a “sin-free” life.

The Catholic Church divides sin into two categories: venial sins, in which guilt is relatively minor, and the more severe mortal sins. Theologically, a mortal or deadly sin is believed to destroy the life of grace and charity within a person and thus creates the threat of eternal damnation. “Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished [for Catholics] within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation. According to Catholic moral thought, the seven deadly sins are not discrete from other sins, but are instead the origin (“capital” comes from the Latin caput, head) of the others. “Deadly sins” can be either venial or mortal, depending on the situation, but “are called ‘capital’ because they engender other sins, other vices”.

There have been many sources in which the Seven Deadly Sins have been highlighted, for example:

Perhaps the most spectacular representation of the sins are in Dante’s “Divina Commedia” in which the tryptic (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) each represent a meeting with a character or demon who embodies the sins, but what of an investigation of the sins in opera?  Immediately, Kurt Weill’s “The Seven Deadly Sins” or Die sieben Todsünden comes to mind, a satirical ballet chanté (“sung ballet”) in seven scenes (nine movements) composed to a German Libretto by Bertolt Brecht in 1933.  It was later translated into English and would be the last major collaboration between the two.

In music, and opera particularly, this subject has been avoided likely because of the numerous operas that could be categorized within the spectrum of the seven sins;  however controversial, the idea of correlating operas with the deadly sins is titilating and exciting.  Applying such a study to the enormous operatic repertoire seems a daunting exercise, and yet beckons the question:  What criteria would one use to select operas that relate to the seven sins?  Referring to any of the above texts might provide viable criteria, however rather than make this a cerebral or academic exercise, it is more fun to base this particular one on emotional content and, moreover, visceral, bodily, and psychological warfare.   As in the film “Seven”, it is the shock element that attracts us most.  The gaze (most often affiliated with film studies on Hitchcock thrillers) comes to mind:  the more disturbing the subject matter, the more we are drawn to stare, to look, to digest.

SLoth from SEven

The presentation of “Sloth” in “Seven”

Stare much?…

Initially, it seemed appropriate to associate full operas with each sin, but I was inspired by the dichotomous photo above in which each beautiful woman represents a sin.  I immediately  thought of Eve and the forbidden fruit, so I decided it would be much sexier to associate female characters in opera to these sins, mainly because female protagonists are often referred to as “operatic heroines,” so I thought I might shake things up.  And while there could be many characters (male and female) associated with each sin, these are personal choices.  At the end of this article, you will have a chance to offer your own opinions and choices in a poll.  I will post your suggestions at a later date.  For now….to Wrath

Wrath:

Wrath

Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as “rage”, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Wrath, in its purest form, presents with self-destructiveness, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Wrath may persist long after the person who did another a grievous wrong is dead. Feelings of anger can manifest in different ways, including impatience, revenge, and vigilantism.

Wrath is the only sin not necessarily associated with selfishness or self-interest, although one can of course be wrathful for selfish reasons, such as jealousy (closely related to the sin of envy). Dante described vengeance as “love of justice perverted to revenge and spite”. In its original form, the sin of anger also encompassed anger pointed internally as well as externally. Thus  was deemed as the ultimate, albeit tragic, expression of hatred directed inwardly, a final rejection of God’s gifts.

The women in opera who, in my opinion, most prominently express the attributes of Wrath are:

Cherubini’s Medea

Medea-Callas

Puccini’s Tosca

Puccini’s Turandot

Verdi’s Azucena

Janacek’s Katya Katabanova

katya kabanova 1

Janacek’s Kostelnicka

Cilea’s Principessa De Bouillon 

Puccini’s Zia Principessa

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Strauss’ Klytemnestra

Mozart’s Queen of the Night

Lust:

Lust

Lust or lechery (carnal “luxuria“) is an intense desire. It is usually thought of as excessive sexual want; however, the word was originally a general term for desire. Therefore lust could involve the intense desire of money, food, fame, or power as well.

In Dante’s Purgatorio the penitent walks within flames to purge himself of lustful/sexual thoughts and feelings. In Dante’s Inferno, unforgiven souls of the sin of lust are blown about in restless hurricane-like winds symbolic of their own lack of self-control to their lustful passions in earthly life.

Mozart’s Cherubino

Bizet’s Carmen

Strauss’ Salome

Berg’s Countess Geschwitz

Octavian

Puccini’s Giorgetta

Janacek’s Emilia Marty

Puccini’s Tigrana

Gluttony:

Gluttony

Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.

In Christian religions, it is considered a sin because of the excessive desire for food, and its withholding from the needy.

Because of these scripts, gluttony can be interpreted as selfishness; essentially placing concern with one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others.

Medieval church leaders (e.g., Thomas Aquinas) took a more expansive view of gluttony, arguing that it could also include an obsessive anticipation of meals, and the constant eating of delicacies and excessively costly foods. Aquinas went so far as to prepare a list of six ways to commit gluttony, comprising:

  • Praepropere – eating too soon
  • Laute – eating too expensively
  • Nimis – eating too much
  • Ardenter – eating too eagerly
  • Studiose – eating too daintily
  • Forente – eating wildly

I had an inordinately difficult time trying to think of a female character who is Gluttonous, and unless one thinks of gluttony as a thirst for blood, perhaps the only true character in this case is the glutton of opera, Sir John Falstaff.

Verdi’s Falstaff

Greed:

the-seven-deadly-sins-greed

Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.” In Dante’s Purgatory, the penitents were bound and laid face down on the ground for having concentrated too much on earthly thoughts. Scavenging and hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are all actions that may be inspired by Greed. Such misdeeds can include simony, where one attempts to purchase or sell sacraments, including Holy Orders and, therefore, positions of authority in the Church hierarchy.

As defined outside of Christian writings, greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, especially with respect to material wealth.

Verdi’s Lady Macbeth

Handel’s Cleopatra

Massenet’s Manon

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut

Sloth:

SLoth

Sloth (Latin, Socordia) can entail different vices. While sloth is sometimes defined as physical laziness, spiritual laziness is emphasized. Failing to develop spiritually is key to becoming guilty of sloth. In the Christian faith, sloth rejects grace and God.

Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when good men fail to act.

Over time, the “acedia” in Pope Gregory order has come to be closer in meaning to sloth. The focus came to be on the consequences of acedia rather than the cause, and so, by the 17th century, the exact deadly sin referred to was believed to be the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts. Even in Dante’s time there were signs of this change; in his Purgatorio he had portrayed the penance for acedia as running continuously at top speed.

Envy:

Envy

Like greed and lust, Envy (Latin, invidia) is characterized by an insatiable desire. Envy is similar to jealousy in that they both feel discontent towards someone’s traits, status, abilities, or rewards. The difference is the envious also desire the entity and covet it.

Envy can be directly related to the Ten Commandments, specifically, “Neither shall you desire… anything that belongs to your neighbour.” Dante defined this as “a desire to deprive other men of theirs”. In Dante’s Purgatory, the punishment for the envious is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire because they have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low. Aquinas described envy as “sorrow for another’s good”.

Verdi’s Amneris

Cilea’s Principessa di Bouillon

Puccini’s Tosca

Massenet:  Manon

Verdi’s Eboli

Strauss’ Marschallin

Pride:

Pride

In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante’s definition was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbour”.  In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the penitents were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs to induce feelings of humility.

Verdi’s: Amneris

Puccini’s Tosca

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut

Bizet’s Carmen

Opera studies today have merged with many other disciplines and, personally, I find it fascinating to gaze at familiar characters with multi-coloured spectacles that might provide different interpretations and correlations, sometimes exposing aspects of a character that may not be as visible, or one that might allow a performer to bring that character to life in a more realistic way.   The Seven Deadly Sins have marked history with fascination and intrigue because they were once thought to govern every day life.  Do they still?  Are you guilty of the sins these characters possess?  Do you see yourself as a Manon Lescaut, wanting riches and beauty instead of love only to find out you really wanted love in the first place? Or are you Tosca, who although pious brims with rage at the torture of the man she loves, rage enough to kill?  We often skirt over the fact that these characters are victorious in the challenges life throws at them, but that they are victorious only by committing some horrific act or simply by being so wrapped up in their own persona that they fail to notice what they are actually doing.  Some, on the other hand, are absolutely aware and revel in the acts they commit.  Would you do the same?

The History Channel’s Documentary on

The Seven Deadly Sins

I’d love to hear your choices for these sins, so post your comments and suggestions on TLV.

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Published in: on September 4, 2013 at 5:14 am  Comments (4)  
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