What’s up at the Met this Week? Verdi and some more of “The Bat”


Ambrogio Maestri as Verdi’s Buffone Tragico, “Falstaff”

As 2013 Draws to a Close: Reflections on Opera


2013 brought world-wide celebrations for rival composers, Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi.  Whilst they both respected each other deep down (if not secretly admired each other), so many words of exclusion were uttered between them during their tenure as the greatest living opera composers of the 19th Century. One did not seemingly have time for the music of the other and we might go as far as saying that the music of one did not exist for the other; but, exist it did.  In fact, Verdi may never have been inspired to compose Otello or Falstaff without Wagner’s presence and his threat to Italian operatic supremacy.  Nonetheless, without either of these composers we may not have been blessed with what remain the most important and valuable operatic compositions in history.

Wagner 200th



Wagner’s epic and gargantuan Der Ring Des Nibelungen continues to be a monumental presentation in opera houses like Bayreuth and the Metropolitan Opera and directors are attempting, still,  to create new ideas for this magnitudinous work.  Verdi, on the other hand, bore operas that are staples of melody, intricate plots, drama, and memorable arias to the point that there isn’t an opera house on earth that doesn’t present a Verdi opera in every season.  What would Italian opera be without the magnificence of Il Trovatore, Don Carlo, Traviata, or Otello?  The world over, celebrations have graced this operatic year, giving honour and praise to these two giants.  These are interesting historical times to live in, to say the least.


Amidst celebrations, there has also been fear over the economic and artistic state in Italy, and threats to close La Scala, the leading opera house in the country.  That Italians might even ponder this idea seems like a self-imploding mistake, but I hold fast to the fact that Italians are very territorial and very patriotic.  They will not let the house close or be threatened because opera is, contrary to some who think it’s soccer, the national pastime of Italians.  It is their greatest universal export and the birthplace of opera.  Let’s keep Italy and all countries in our thoughts as the New Year chimes in, in hope for continued prosperity and the protection of the art we love.

For some, 2013 has brought strife, illness, losses, anxiety, death, and suffering.  So many people I’ve spoken to have had one of the worst years possible. Nearing the end of this year, I lost my beloved grandfather Raffaele Greco, who was an artisan, and Italian trained tailor and clothing designer who inspired my life in many ways. The pain of loss never ceases but it eases by lingering in memories.  Every time I try on a new gown or costume, I can’t help think of him and his precise and pristine manner with clothing to the point that I, myself, have become picky about tailoring. Whatever the reasons, perhaps it’s the association with the number 13, or just a turning point in the scheme of life this year, we will never know understand reasons for having an extraordinarily bad year. On a positive turn, I think the best thing to do in this case is to take the bad with the good, even if it comes in small doses.  It is important to be thankful and know that a bleak year usually means that the next one won’t be so bleak.  Hopefully, it will be filled with joy, happiness, good health, success, birth, and prosperity.  We can only take what we’ve learned and move forward so here’s to ending 2013 and starting 2014 on a positive and prosperous note. I, for one, intend 2014 to be a fabulous year.  I hope you do, too!


Rising Tenor, Michael Fabiano

Since, I keep abreast of all things Metropolitan Opera, I want to encourage you to tune into the New Year’s Eve broadcast on Met Opera Radio or Live on the Met Website, which is the ever fun and fashionable Die Fledermaus.  In it, the fabulous rising tenor, Michael Fabiano, makes his debut as Alfred and will show you the fun and comical side of his usually handsome, brooding, and serious characterizations.  Although Michael is versatile and will wow you in this role, we’re waiting to see him at the Met in his exquisite interpretation of Rodolfo and other romantic roles.  Congratulations to him and all singers who have made debuts and recordings this year, specifically a new recording by the ever beautiful Ailyn Perez and her handsome husband and sunny-voiced tenor, Stephen Costello.  You will want to get this one while it’s hot!  Also, kudos to mezzo-soprano’s Jamie Barton on her Met Debut as Adalgisa and her winning the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, and to Isabel Leonard who was the recipient of the Richard Tucker Award. These young singers are the lifeblood of opera today and I wish them every bit of success possible.  Keep your eye on them in 2014 and you won’t be disappointed!


Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez

Jamie Barton

Cardiff Singer of the World:  mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton

Isabel Leonard

Richard Tucker Award Winner:  mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard

To all opera lovers:  it seems like we belong to a special club that no one else understands.  We actually do and how blessed are we to understand, know, and adore this art that has caused controversy, excitement, audience explosions, scandal, thrills, and absolute beauty since its inception?  To talk about it and discuss it is to keep its blood flowing, to keep it thriving.  I will never stop talking about opera or wanting to share its magnificent message.  There is nothing like it!  We can all do our part to keep it alive in our own communities, to share it with people who haven’t yet been bitten by the bug, and to continue to support LIVE performance.  Here’s to 2014 and to opera, the greatest art in the world, and the closest thing to Heaven that we’ll ever know.  May 2014 be blessed  for you and yours.  Cheers!

Golden Sky Happy New Year 2014 HD Wallpapers

Paris Opera Opens with Lucia di Lammermoor Sept 7-Oct 9

Patrizia Ciofi


Check out Patrizia Ciofi and Michael Fabiano in the starring roles

Video Presentation

Inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s novel, madness is the dominant theme in this opera, set in a ruined castle on the misty moors. With sublime mastery, Donizetti combines drama with consummate vocal writing, giving the role of Lucia a heartbreakingly delicate quality.

Maurizio Benini Conductor
Andrei Serban Stage director
William Dudley Sets and costumes
Guido Levi Lighting
Alessandro Di Stefano Chorus master

Ludovic Tézier (7, 13, 20, 26 sept., 1er oct.) / George Petean (10, 17, 23, 29 sept., 4, 6, 9 oct.) Enrico Ashton
Patrizia Ciofi (7, 13, 20, 26 sept., 1er, 6 oct.) / Sonya Yoncheva (10, 17, 23, 29 sept., 4, 9 oct.) Lucia
Vittorio Grigolo (7, 13, 20, 26 sept., 1er, 6 oct.) / Michael Fabiano (10, 17, 23, 29 sept., 4, 9 oct.) Edgardo di Ravenswood
Alfredo Nigro Arturo Bucklaw
Orlin Anastassov Raimondo Bidebent
Cornelia Oncioiu Alisa
Eric Huchet Normanno

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

“American Tenor, Michael Fabiano Talks Bel Canto” and about the ENO’s Upcoming Production of Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia”

ENO presents a unique new staging of one of the Italian composer’s most profound masterpieces Lucrezia Borgia. Legendary recordings are cherished by opera fans everywhere, but live performances of the work in its entirety are rare, so this staging is an extraordinary treat for all serious music lovers.

Director Mike Figgis has created some of the most significant cinema in recent years, including the Oscar-winning classic Leaving Las Vegas starring Nicolas Cage. Here, he brings his visionary directorial style to opera for the first time. The production features a specially commissioned new film by Figgis, charting the early life of Lucrezia Borgia.

Claire Rutter, star of ENO’s Zandra Rhodes-designed Aida, returns as Renaissance Italy’s darkest femme fatale, with rising young American tenor Michael Fabiano as Lucrezia’s long-lost son. ENO’s Olivier Award-winning former Music Director, Paul Daniel, conducts.

Jan 31, Feb 9, 15, 18, 23, 25 & Mar 3 at 7.30pm, Feb 5, 12 at 6.30pm


Claire Rutter (Lucrezia Borgia)

Michael Fabiano (Gennaro)

Elizabeth DeShong (Maffio Orsini)

Alastair Miles (Alfonso d’Este)


Interview: Michael Fabiano stars in ENO’s new production of Lucrezia Borgia

A great voice and brains to boot, tenor Michael Fabiano

World’s first live 3D opera
ENO and Sky are collaborating again on a world-first broadcasting project, with Lucrezia Borgia becoming the first ever live opera in 3D.

The partnership will create the world’s first ‘quadcast’ on 23 February 2011, with a live broadcast on Sky Arts 2 (HD), Sky 3D and live into selected cinemas in 3D around the UK and a deferred relay in 2D into selected cinemas internationally. The fourth element of the ‘quadcast’, onto Sky Arts 1, is directed by Mike Figgis, and will allow audiences a closer understanding of his concept for Lucrezia Borgia as well as including interviews with people behind the scenes.

Synopsis of “Lucrezia Borgia”


The Palazzo Grimani, Venice

A party is in full swing and Gennaro and his companions are enjoying themselves. The conversation turns to Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, and his infamous wife, Lucrezia Borgia. Orsini recounts how Gennaro saved his life in battle. They swore eternal friendship, but had no sooner done so when a man appeared prophesying that the two friends would die together and that they must avoid Lucrezia Borgia.

Bored and tired, Gennaro leaves his friends and falls asleep on the terrace, where he is discovered by Lucrezia Borgia. Wearing a mask to protect her true identity, she has followed Gennaro to Venice because he is her long-lost son. Preoccupied by Gennaro, she fails to notice Alfonso and his henchman, Rustighello, lurking in the shadows. Gennaro wakes and, overwhelmed by Lucrezia’s beauty, declares there is only one other woman he loves more: the mother he never knew. He recounts to Lucrezia the story of his childhood.

Gennaro’s comrades return and immediately recognize Lucrezia, who has been responsible for murdering members of each of their families. Gennaro is horrified.

Act I
Scene 1 A piazza in Ferrara

Alfonso wrongly believes Gennaro and Lucrezia to be lovers and plots Gennaro’s murder.

Gennaro and his entourage have come to Ferrara as part of the Venetian embassy and have taken lodgings close the ducal palace. To show his hatred of Lucrezia’s crimes, Gennaro defaces an image of her.

Gubetta (sent by Lucrezia) and Rustighello (sent by Alfonso) are both looking for Gennaro. Rustighello and his men seize Gennaro.

Scene 2
A room in the ducal palace

Alfonso orders Rustighello to fetch two decanters of wine, one of silver and the other – containing poisoned wine – of gold.

Lucrezia enters. Having seen her defaced image, she demands revenge on the perpetrator. Gennaro is brought before them and accused of insulting the Borgias, a charge to which he confesses. When she discovers that it is Gennaro who is responsible, Lucrezia attempts to back-track from her previous position and makes excuses for him. Alfonso accuses her of infidelity with Gennaro, which she vehemently denies. She threatens Alfonso, reminding him of the fate that met each of her previous husbands. But Alfonso remains adamant, and forces her to choose the manner of Gennaro’s execution.

Alfonso pretends to Gennaro that he has yielded to Lucrezia’s pleas to release him. Gennaro is surprised by the duke’s clemency and reveals that he once saved the life of Alfonso’s father in battle, news of which prompts Alfonso to feign gratitude. The duke offers him a glass of wine, and forces Lucrezia to pour the drink from the poisoned decanter.

As soon as Alfonso leaves, Lucrezia administers an antidote to the poison and begs Gennaro to leave Ferrara.

Interval of 20 minutes

Act II
Scene 1 A courtyard leading to Gennaro’s lodgings

Gennaro admits to himself that he loves Lucrezia.

Rustighello and his men come to arrest Gennaro. They overhear Orsini persuading Gennaro to remain in Ferrara and attend the banquet at the Princess Negroni’s that evening.

Scene 2

The Princess Negroni’s banquet

Gubetta, who is loyal to Lucrezia, mocks Orsini and a fight breaks out. Liverotto puts a stop to it, and Gubetta invites everyone to drink a toast to friendship. Orsini leads a drinking song which is interrupted by mysterious voices chanting the service for the dead.

Lucrezia enters and announces that in revenge for their insults in Venice, Gennaro’s associates – Orsini, Liverotto, Vitellozo, Petrucci and Gazella – have been served poisoned wine. Horrified to see Gennaro still in Ferrara, she swears she never intended her vengeance to extend to him. There is still some of the antidote left, but not enough to save him and his companions. Gennaro attempts to kill Lucrezia but she stops him by revealing that she is his mother. Son and mother are briefly united before the poison acts on Gennaro. Realizing that she has murdered her own son, Lucrezia calls on God to strike her down.

Young Stars Shine in Vancouver Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”

Reviews from the Production of “Lucia di Lammermoor” from Vancouver Opera, starring two great young performers, the elegant Eglise Gutierrez and the masterful Michael Fabiano.

Review: Mad About Lucia

By David Gordon Duke, Special to The Sun December 5, 2010

Lucia di Lammermoor

Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Saturday, December 4

Performances continue December 7, 9, and 11

– – –

Vancouver Opera has another hit in its recent string of must-see productions: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, which opened a four-evening run at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Saturday.

This bel canto favourite holds its place in the repertoire as a vehicle for just the right singer; but while this production glories in the contribution of a single star, the endeavour has other strengths. These include a picturesque (if appropriately gloomy) set and Amiel Gladstone’s pragmatic direction, a fundamentally traditional staging enlivened with a few surprises.

Then there’s the sensitive work of the VO orchestra, led with dash and real verve by Jonathan Darlington. Casting is consistent, with bass-baritone Burak Bilgili and Gregory Dahl turning in strong performances as, respectively, the Lammermoor chaplain and Enrico, Lucia’s dastardly brother.

Tenor Michael Fabiano is showcased in the role of Edgardo, Lucia’s love interest. Fabiano’s big voice is still a trifle inconsistent at the top, but he delivers with a flashy confidence, and an unmistakable charisma animates all his big numbers. His raw intensity takes the second act finale to a level of dramatic clarity that makes the plot seem, for just a split second, remotely plausible.

Here is a tenor to watch.

But the evening begins and ends, just as Donizetti meant it to, with the title role. Vancouver audiences had their first glimpse of soprano Eglise Gutiérrez in Rigoletto a few seasons ago; Lucia shows what Gutiérrez can really do.

Her vocal technique is more than a match for the gruelling demands of bel canto: she has the utterly reliable high notes, the quicksilver agility, the sense of line, the feel for ornamentation and, most significantly, the taste to own the role.

Gutiérrez stopped the show with her first number, and thereafter went from strength to strength. Her take on the fabled third act “mad scene” was clean and consistent, a musical and dramatic tour de force abetted by wonderful work from the orchestra’s principal flute—playing so tangible and supple that it might just as well have been coming from a character up on stage.

The great bel canto operas are the property of vocal stars who can make them live, and force audiences to see beyond their stylized conventions. Eglise Gutiérrez is just such a star, and her Lucia is old school opera at its most powerful.


The Vancouver Sun

Review in www.straight.com

Published in: on December 7, 2010 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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PLAYBILL ARTS Interviews Grand Diva Aprile Millo on the cusp of her 25th Anniversary.

Aprile Millo celebrates 25 years tomorrow night at Frederick P. Rose Recital Hall, 8pm.


Click here to read the interview.  PLAYBILL ARTS INTERVIEW

A fascinating conversation with Aprile Millo.


Aprile Millo, Soprano

Lucy Arner, Pianist


Merynda Adams, harp

Christopher Collins Lee, violin

Michael Fabiano, tenor

Lynn Harrell, cello

Luis Ledesma, baritone

Danielle Orlando, piano

Mary-Lou Vetere, accordion

Iveta & Gherman dancers

Russ & Katusha, dancers