As 2013 Draws to a Close: Reflections on Opera

2014

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

 

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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The Last Verista’s “Pick of the Week” for Jan 29-Feb 5, 2012 on Met Opera Radio (Sirius/XM): Millo/Pavarotti “Il Trovatore”

Monday, January 30, 2012

6:00am: Verdi: Il Trovatore
1/21/1989-Levine; Pavarotti, Millo, Milnes, Cossotto, Plishka

9:00am: R. Strauss: Salome
3/18/1972-Böhm; Rysanek, Stolze, Dalis, Stewart, MacWherter

12:00pm: Britten: Billy Budd
4/4/1992-Mackerras; Hampson, Clark, Morris, Held, Courtney

3:00pm: Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro
1/28/1961-Leinsdorf; Siepi, Peters, Borg, Amara, Miller, Flagello

6:00pm: Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
1/25/1986-Cambreling; Malfitano, Shicoff, Plishka, Harris, Schexnayder

9:00pm: Puccini: La Bohème
3/19/1977-Levine; Scotto, Pavarotti, Niska, Wixell, Monk, Plishka

12:00am: Janácek: Jenufa
12/26/1992-Conlon; Benacková, Heppner, Rysanek, Trussel, Christin, Guyer, Wells, Skok, Kelly, JCourtney, Castle, Uecker, Di Franco

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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6:00am: Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
3/27/1982-Chailly; Domingo, Welting, Troyanos, Eda-Pierre, Morris, Howells, Sénéchal

9:00am: Verdi: Nabucco
4/5/2003-Levine; Ataneli, Neves, Casanova, White, Ramey, Waite, Kowaljow, Valdes

12:00pm: Donizetti: La Favorita
3/11/1978-López-Cobos; Verrett, Pavarotti, Milnes, Giaiotti

3:00pm: Mozart: Idomeneo
12/21/1991-Levine; Heppner, Upshaw, Mentzer, Vaness, Kazaras

6:00 PM ET Wagner: Götterdämmerung (LIVE FROM THE MET) Luisi; Voigt, Gould, König, Meier, Harmer, Paterson,Owens

12:00 AM ET Verdi: Messa da Requiem
2/20/1982-Levine; Price, Quivar, Domingo, Cheek

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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6:00am: Gounod: Faust
3/17/2007-Benini; Vargas, Swenson, Abdrazakov, Yun

9:00am: Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
2/28/1959-Schippers; Stella, Peerce, Merrill, Madeira, Hurley

12:00pm: Wagner: Lohengrin
3/21/1998-Levine; Heppner, Voigt, Polaski, Ketelsen, Halfvarson

6:00pm: Britten: Billy Budd
4/4/1992-Mackerras; Hampson, Clark, Morris, Held, Courtney

9:00pm: Verdi: Il Trovatore
1/21/1989-Levine; Pavarotti, Millo, Milnes, Cossotto, Plishka

12:00pm: R. Strauss: Salome
3/18/1972-Böhm; Rysanek, Stolze, Dalis, Stewart, MacWherter

Thursday, February 2, 2012

6:00am: Janácek: Jenufa
12/26/1992-Conlon; Benacková, Heppner, Rysanek, Trussel, Christin, Guyer, Wells, Skok, Kelly, JCourtney, Castle, Uecker, Di Franco

9:00am: Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro
1/28/1961-Leinsdorf; Siepi, Peters, Borg, Amara, Miller, Flagello

12:00pm: Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
1/25/1986-Cambreling; Malfitano, Shicoff, Plishka, Harris, Schexnayder

3:00pm: Puccini: La Bohème                                                                                                                                                                                                                       3/19/1977-Levine; Scotto, Pavarotti, Niska, Wixell, Monk, Plishka

6:00pm: Verdi: Ernani (SEASON PREMIERE – LIVE FROM THE MET) Armiliato; De Biasio, Meade, Furlanetto, Hvorostovsky

12:00am: Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
3/27/1982-Chailly; Domingo, Welting, Troyanos, Eda-Pierre, Morris, Howells, Sénéchal

Friday, February 3, 2012

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6:00am: Wagner: Lohengrin
3/21/1998-Levine; Heppner, Voigt, Polaski, Ketelsen, Halfvarson

12:00pm: Gounod: Faust
3/17/2007-Benini; Vargas, Swenson, Abdrazakov, Yun

3:00pm: Donizetti: La Favorita
3/11/1978-López-Cobos; Verrett, Pavarotti, Milnes, Giaiotti

6:00pm: Verdi: Nabucco
4/5/2003-Levine; Ataneli, Neves, Casanova, White, Ramey, Waite, Kowaljow, Valdes

9:00pm: Mozart: Idomeneo
12/21/1991-Levine; Heppner, Upshaw, Mentzer, Vaness, Kazaras

12:00pm: Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
2/28/1959-Schippers; Stella, Peerce, Merrill, Madeira, Hurley

Saturday, February 4, 2012

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6:00am: Britten: Billy Budd
4/4/1992-Mackerras; Hampson, Clark, Morris, Held, Courtney

9:00am: Puccini: La Bohème
3/19/1977-Levine; Scotto, Pavarotti, Niska, Wixell, Monk, Plishka

12:00pm: Donizetti: Anna Bolena (LIVE FROM THE MET) Armiliato; Netrebko, Gubanova, Abdrazakov, Costello, Mumford

6:00pm: Verdi: Messa da Requiem
2/20/1982-Levine; Price, Quivar, Domingo, Cheek

9:00pm: Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro
1/28/1961-Leinsdorf; Siepi, Peters, Borg, Amara, Miller, Flagello

12:00am: Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
1/25/1986-Cambreling; Malfitano, Shicoff, Plishka, Harris, Schexnayder

Sunday, February 5, 2012

page4image5224

6:00am: Donizetti: La Favorita
3/11/1978-López-Cobos; Verrett, Pavarotti, Milnes, Giaiotti

9:00am: Verdi: Il Trovatore
1/21/1989-Levine; Pavarotti, Millo, Milnes, Cossotto, Plishka

12:00pm: Janácek: Jenufa
12/26/1992-Conlon; Benacková, Heppner, Rysanek, Trussel, Christin, Guyer, Wells, Skok, Kelly, JCourtney, Castle, Uecker, Di Franco

3:00pm: R. Strauss: Salome
3/18/1972-Böhm; Rysanek, Stolze, Dalis, Stewart, MacWherter

6:00pm: Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
3/27/1982-Chailly; Domingo, Welting, Troyanos, Eda-Pierre, Morris, Howells, Sénéchal

This Month at The Met
Jay Hunter Morris, Peter Gelb, Fabio Luisi, Diana Damrau, Stephanie Blythe, Quiz encore hosted by Matthew Polenzani, Angela Meade

9:00pm: Verdi: Nabucco
4/5/2003-Levine; Ataneli, Neves, Casanova, White, Ramey, Waite, Kowaljow, Valdes

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY Announces 2012/2013 Season

Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company unveiled a stellar artistic line-up for its 2012/2013 season today at a press conference at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The company’s 63rd season is a celebration of opera’s greatest masterpieces and features the return of works both long absent and familiar to the COC stage. The COC presents Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus in a new COC production, Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Richard Strauss’s Salome and Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites.

A dazzling array of the opera world’s leading artists will appear with the COC in 12/13. No less than 33 singers, conductors, directors and designers make their company debuts, including singers Anna Christy, Stephen Costello, Melanie Diener, Elza van den Heever, Isabel Leonard, Brian Mulligan, Franz-Josef Selig and Erika Sunnegårdh; conductor Jiří Bělohlávek; director Peter Sellars; and visual artists Jean-Noël Lavesvre and Bill Viola. Returning artists include singers Isabel Bayrakdarian, Russell Braun, Judith Forst, Alan Held, Ben Heppner, Richard Margison, Adrianne Pieczonka, Michael Schade, Ramón Vargas and Tamara Wilson; conductor Stephen Lord; directors Christopher Alden, David Alden, Robert Carsen and Atom Egoyan; and designer Michael Levine. All performances take place in the company’s home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, and feature the renowned COC Orchestra and Chorus.

Baritone, Russell Braun

Soprano, Adrianne Pieczonka

Tenor, Ramon Vargas

Rising Tenor, Stephen Costello

“I’m very proud of the artists and productions the COC has secured for its 12/13 season. Exceptional artists enjoy working with exceptional companies, and the COC has become a destination for artists of a truly remarkable calibre.” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “The 12/13 season has an ambitious and creative vision that distinguishes the Canadian Opera Company as a home for truly special programming devoted to achieving the greatest heights of artistic excellence.”

The Canadian Opera Company’s 12/13 season opens with the quintessential Italian opera, Giuseppe Verdi’s
Il Trovatore, last performed by the COC in 2005. A staple of the operatic repertoire, Il Trovatore has mesmerized audiences since its premiere in 1853 with its scorching tale of the vengeful gypsy Azucena, her son Manrico’s romance with the noblewoman Leonora, and his rivalry with the Conte di Luna. A world-class cast helms this fiery melodrama: internationally renowned Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas, who appeared with the COC for the company’s 60th anniversary concert, makes his mainstage and role debut as Manrico; acclaimed Canadian baritone Russell Braun (Jaufré in the COC’s 11/12 production of Love from Afar) makes his role debut as the Conte di Luna; South-African soprano Elza van den Heever, in a COC debut, appears as Leonora; and Russian mezzo-soprano Elena Manistina makes her COC debut as the gypsy Azucena, a role she reprises following performances with Gran Teatre del Liceu and Opéra National de Bordeaux. Rounding out the cast is Italian tenor Riccardo Massi, in his COC debut, who sings the role of Manrico for two performances. Ukrainian bass Dmitry Beloselsky appears with the COC for the first time as Ferrando. The COC’s Il Trovatore features director Charles Roubaud’s acclaimed production from Opéra de Marseille and celebrated conductor Marco Guidarini leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus through Verdi’s rich score, which highlights some of Romantic opera’s most beautiful and recognizable music. Designer and sculptor Jean-Noël Lavesvre has created an atmospheric set that is at once castle and gypsy camp.

Il Trovatore is sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM and runs for 10 performances at the
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Sept. 29, Oct. 2, 5, 10, 13, 19, 21, 25, 28, and 31, 2012.

The fall season continues with Johann Strauss II’s popular operetta, Die Fledermaus. In this hilarious comedy, with its screwball plot of elaborate revenge, disguises, mistaken identity and spouses pushing the boundaries of each other’s fidelity, Strauss outdid his own reputation as the “waltz king” of Vienna by composing some of opera’s most gorgeous dance music. Absent from the COC stage for more than 20 years, Die Fledermaus returns in a new production by director Christopher Alden (2011’s Rigoletto and 2010’s The Flying Dutchman). Set in early-20th century Vienna, Alden’s staging will conjure up a glamorous world bubbling with extravagance and sophisticated wit, while gently mocking the duplicity of people and the larger social hypocrisies they inhabit. COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra and Chorus through a score that has come to embody high-spirited celebration since the opera’s premiere in 1873. Die Fledermaus features a cast of largely Canadian voices, led by internationally renowned Canadian tenor Michael Schade. Last with the COC in 2011’s The Magic Flute, Schade returns to make his role debut as Gabriel von Eisenstein, an affluent gentleman who delays serving a short prison sentence by way of a quick frolic at an extravagant party. American soprano Tamara Wilson (2010’s Idomeneo) returns to delight audiences as Rosalinde, Eisenstein’s wife, whose disguised appearance at the same party has mischievous consequences for her husband. Mezzo-soprano Laura Tucker (2004’s Die Walküre) returns to the COC as Prince Orlofsky, the host of the elaborate costume party. Current and former COC Ensemble Studio artists make up several of the operetta’s comedic characters: Ensemble sopranos Ambur Braid and Mireille Asselin share the role of Eisenstein’s maid, Adele; Ensemble graduate baritone Peter Barrett (2011’s Ariadne auf Naxos) is Dr. Falke; Ensemble tenor Christopher Enns is Alfred, who mistakenly goes to jail in place of Eisenstein; and Ensemble graduate baritone James Westman (2009’s Madama Butterfly) is Frank, the prison’s governor. American tenor David Cangelosi (Spoletta in the COC’s 11/12 production of Tosca) is Dr. Blind. Die Fledermaus is sung in German with English SURTITLESTM and runs for 11 performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Oct. 4, 9, 12, 14, 17, 20, 24, 27, 30, Nov. 1 and 3, 2012.

The COC opens its winter season with one of music history’s most influential works, Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. This production by legendary director Peter Sellars stars celebrated Canadian tenor Ben Heppner in his signature role, one that critics have hailed as a “translucent and exalted performance.”
Making his company debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is one of the most sought after and respected conductors in the world today, Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra Jiří Bělohlávek. This is the first time that Sellars’ awe-inspiring production of Tristan und Isolde will be seen in Canada, with the COC recreating the Opéra national de Paris production that premiered in 2005. Sellars’ staging for Tristan und Isolde comes to life with video imagery by internationally renowned video artist Bill Viola, who, says Sellars, “has come up with an image of the scale and scope, grandeur and immensity, and genuine transcendence that Wagner was imagining.” Singing opposite Heppner is a German soprano known for her mastery of the Mozart, Strauss and Wagner repertoire, Melanie Diener, in her COC debut as Isolde. German bass Franz-Josef Selig makes his COC debut as King Marke of Cornwall, the man betrayed by Tristan and Isolde’s love affair. The role of Isolde’s maid, Brangäne, is sung by Greek-American mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, and American bass-baritone Alan Held (Simone and Gianni Schicchi in the COC’s upcoming double bill of A Florentine Tragedy/Gianni Schicchi) is Tristan’s servant, Kurwenal. American bass-baritone Ryan McKinney is the courtier Melot, and Ensemble Studio graduates bass Robert Gleadow and tenor Adam Luther return as the Steersman and the Sailor/Shepherd, respectively. German tenor Burkhard Fritz and American soprano Margaret Jane Wray will sing the roles of Tristan and Isolde for two performances. Last seen at the COC in 1987, Tristan und Isolde returns for seven performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Jan. 29, Feb. 2, 8, 14, 17, 20 and 23, 2013, and is sung in German with English SURTITLESTM.

The winter 2013 season continues with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final opera, La clemenza di Tito. Containing some of opera’s most sublime music, La clemenza di Tito was written to celebrate the coronation of Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia in 1791. In its telling of the attempted assassination of the Emperor Tito and his forgiveness of those who betrayed him, the opera was meant to reflect in the titular emperor’s mercy, a quality that the populace might have hoped for in their new king. Michael Schade returns to the COC for the second time in the 12/13 season to perform Tito, a role which has won him acclaim from Salzburg to Washington where his singing was praised for its “unflagging intensity and musical intelligence” (Washington Post). Making her COC debut as Sesto, Tito’s friend, is Met regular and one of the finest mezzo- sopranos on the operatic stage today, American Isabel Leonard. Ensemble Studio soprano Mireille Asselin performs the role of Servilia, Sesto’s sister, and cast as the vengeful Vitellia is rising opera star American soprano Keri Alkema (appearing with the COC in this spring’s The Tales of Hoffmann). The COC also welcomes back Ensemble Studio alumni mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as Annio and bass Robert Gleadow as Publio. COC Music Director Johannes Debus once more leads the COC Orchestra and Chorus and he’s joined by director Christopher Alden, with a production described by the Chicago Tribune at its 2009 premiere by Chicago Opera Theater as “an evening of modern music theatre you mustn’t miss.” La clemenza di Tito is sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM and was last performed by the COC in 1991. It runs for nine performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Feb. 3, 6*, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 19 and 22, 2013.

*ENSEMBLE STUDIO PERFORMANCE OF LA CLEMENZA DI TITO ON FEB. 6, 2013
The exciting young singers of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio perform Mozart’s
La clemenza di Tito on Feb. 6, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. on the mainstage. This special performance stars the Ensemble members with the full COC Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of La clemenza di Tito’s conductor Johannes Debus and director Christopher Alden. For casting, please visit the COC website at coc.ca. Tickets are accessibly priced at $22 and $55 per person.

Opening the COC’s spring season is Gaetano Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece, Lucia di Lammermoor, starring American soprano Anna Christy in a production created for her by director David Alden for English National Opera. Christy’s shattering performance in the title role was met with critical and popular acclaim when the production premiered at ENO in 2008. Alden’s production transports audiences into the darkly brooding world of Sir Walter Scott’s Gothic novel in which Lucia is treated as little more than chattel within a brutal, power-driven society. “[Christy’s] doll-like Lucia is all fey intensity, unaware of her sexual allure and pitched from the start at the edge of sanity. Her dazzling sketched coloratura in the mad scene is electrifying” said The Daily Telegraph. American tenor Stephen Costello and American baritone Brian Mulligan make their COC debuts as Lucia’s lover, Edgardo, and Lucia’s vengeful brother, Enrico, respectively. American tenor Nathaniel Peake, a 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Winner, is Arturo, and American bass Oren Gradus sings Raimondo. Stephen Lord, named one of the “25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera” by Opera News, leads the COC Orchestra and Chorus conducting Donizetti’s cascading romantic melodies. Lucia di Lammermoor is sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM and runs for nine performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 17, 20, 26, 30, May 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24, 2013.

The spring season continues with the return of celebrated Canadian director Atom Egoyan with his searing, critically acclaimed COC production of Richard Strauss’s Salome. Adapted from Oscar Wilde’s play, the opera recounts the biblical story of Salome, who – to the horror of her stepfather Herod – demands the head of John the Baptist in return for performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. At the opera’s 1905 premiere, the audience and critics were shocked by its subject matter and erotic themes; Salome’s world of voyeurism and sexual abuse still elicits an equally visceral response today. In past presentations of this production, in 1996 and 2002, the COC’s Salome was described as a “brilliant modern day interpretation” that is “lusty,” “provocative,” “marvellously wicked and wickedly marvellous,” and “relevant to a 21st-century audience.” In Swedish-American soprano Erika Sunnegårdh, the COC has a Salome who can meet the vocal and physical demands of one of opera’s most challenging roles. Rounding out the impressive cast is a line-up of familiar and new opera stars: Canadian Richard Margison, making his role debut as Herod; German baritone Martin Gantner, in his COC debut, and American bass-baritone Alan Held, share the role of Jochanaan (John the Baptist); and Swiss mezzo-soprano Julia Juon is Salome’s mother, Herodias, in a COC debut performance. American tenor Nathaniel Peake sings Narraboth, the captain of the guard, and Israeli mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani comes to the COC for the first time as the Page. COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts Strauss’s ecstatic and intoxicating music. Sung in German with English SURTITLESTM, Salome runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 21, 27, May 1, 4, 7, 10, 16 and 22, 2013.

Bringing the COC’s 12/13 season to a close is Francis Poulenc’s operatic masterpiece, Dialogues des Carmélites, in a production by Robert Carsen. The acclaimed Canadian director returns to the COC for a third consecutive season (2010/2011’s Orfeo ed Euridice, 2011/2012’s Iphigenia in Tauris) to direct a cast of 150 performers in a production described by Variety as “subtle, yet gut-wrenching.” COC Music Director Johannes Debus makes his fourth conducting appearance of the 12/13 season leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus through what is considered to be Poulenc’s most haunting score and a work that contains one of opera’s most devastating and unforgettable final scenes. Set design is by acclaimed Canadian designer Michael Levine. Dialogues des Carmélites’ beautiful music sets the tone for the story of an order of Carmelite nuns caught up in the terror of the French Revolution. Leading the primarily Canadian cast are internationally renowned stars: soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian (2011’s Orfeo ed Euridice) as the young aristocrat Blanche trying to escape the turmoil of the Revolution; mezzo-soprano Judith Forst (2002’s The Queen of Spades) as Madame de Croissy, the prioress of the convent; and soprano Adrianne Pieczonka (starring in the COC’s 11/12 production of Tosca), in her role debut, as Madame Lidoine, the new prioress. They are joined by soprano Hélène Guilmette, making her COC debut as Soeur Constance; Moldavian powerhouse Irina Mishura (2009’s Rusalka, 2005’s Il Trovatore) as Mère Marie, tenor Frédéric Antoun (2011’s The Magic Flute) as Chevalier de la Force and Jean-François Lapointe as Marquis de la Force. Carsen brings his signature high-impact approach to this production, which has been seen at some of the world’s great opera houses, including La Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam. Last performed by the opera company in 1997, Dialogues des Carmélites runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on May 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, 21, 23
and 25, 2013, and is sung in French with English SURTITLESTM.

All repertoire, dates, pricing, productions, and casting are subject to change without notice. For more complete casting and creative team information, please see the production pages at coc.ca.

The Canadian Opera Company webcast the announcement of its 12/13 season live on coc.ca on Jan. 18, 2012, at 10 a.m. from the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The webcast is available for streaming.

For more information on the Canadian Opera Company’s 12/13 season, please visit coc.ca.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Die Fledermaus has been generously underwritten by the Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation

Tristan und Isolde has been generously underwritten by Lisa Balfour Bowen and Walter M. Bowen, Philip Deck and Kimberley Bozak, Donald O’Born, Colleen Sexsmith and Sandra L. Simpson

Tristan und Isolde Production Sponsor: BMO Financial Group
Lucia di Lammermoor Production Co-sponsors: CIBC and CIBC Mellon

Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLESTM: Sun Life Financial
Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Jaguar Land

Rover Canada
Broadcast Partner: CBC Radio 2
Official Media Sponsors: CTV and The Globe and Mail Digital Marketing Sponsor: Delvinia

The COC Ensemble Studio is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals and provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and career development opportunities. The Ensemble Studio is supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation and other generous donors.

TICKET INFORMATION

Subscriptions to the seven mainstage productions for the COC’s 12/13 season range from $175 to $1,281, with Grand Ring (box level) seat subscriptions available at $1,869 and $2,289, and may be purchased online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office, 145 Queen St. W., Toronto. Subscriptions are now on sale. Prices include HST.

Single tickets to all of the COC’s 12/13 season productions are available to the public as of Aug. 27, 2012. Single ticket prices range from $45 to $219 ($45 to $263 for Tristan und Isolde), with Grand Ring (box level) seat tickets available at $265 and $325 ($265 and $390 for Tristan und Isolde). Prices include HST.

Young People
Special young people’s tickets for all performances throughout the season are priced from $23 to $110, including HST. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by, and sitting next to an adult.

Opera Under 30
Young adults between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase specially priced $22 tickets through the COC’s Opera Under 30 program approximately two weeks prior to each of the fall, winter and spring seasons: Sept. 15, 2012; Jan. 19, 2013; and April 6, 2013. Opera Under 30 is presented by TD Bank Group. A total of 150 seats, each priced at $22, will be reserved for every COC performance and will be available for purchase through Opera Under 30 to student groups and subject to availability on the day of a performance.

Standing Room
Standing Room tickets, priced at $12, go on sale at 11 a.m. the day of a performance.

Rush Seats
Rush seats, starting at $25, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office, subject to availability.

About the Canadian Opera Company

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the five largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. The COC celebrates its 63rd anniversary during the 12/13 season. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. Designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006, and is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada. For more information on the Canadian Opera Company, please visit its award-winning website, coc.ca.

Canadian Opera Company Website

The Canadian Opera Company’s award-winning website, coc.ca, contains information on all productions and programs and includes video interviews with members of the creative team, as well as many other fun, informative and interactive features. Visitors to coc.ca can access COC Radio, which features a variety of audio and digital features available for downloading and streaming, all aimed at exploring an opera and its background as well as the artists appearing with the COC.

Alexander Neef’s Blog

COC Radio

Canadian Opera Company Website

Reviews and Commentary from Last Night’s Met Opener: Anna Bolena

Here is Anthony Tommassini’s article in today’s New York Times

A Queen’s Delusion and Defiance Opens the Met

By 
Published: September 27, 2011

Since arriving at the Metropolitan Opera as general manager in 2006, Peter Gelb has been angling to make the soprano Anna Netrebko a house prima donna in the old-world sense: a first among equals. On Monday night Mr. Gelb must have felt that the plan was working.

Ms. Netrebko sang the punishing title role of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena” to open the Met’s season, the company’s first production of this breakthrough Donizetti work from 1830. The extended last scene was the high point of Ms. Netrebko’s performance as the distraught British queen (based on the historic Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII). Having been falsely condemned for betraying her husband, Anna drifts in and out of sanity.

Ms. Netrebko sang an elegantly sad aria with lustrous warmth, aching vulnerability and floating high notes. When the audience broke into prolonged applause and bravos, Ms. Netrebko seemed to break character and smiled a couple of times, though her look could have been taken as appropriate to the dramatic moment, since the delusional Anna is lost in reverie about happy days with her former lover.

Then at the end of this “Mad Scene,” when Anna, restored to horrific reality, curses the king and his new queen, Giovanna (Jane Seymour), and stalks off to her execution, Ms. Netrebko dispatched Donizetti’s cabaletta, all brilliant coloratura runs and vehement phrases, with a defiance that brought down the house.

Yet Ms. Netrebko’s Anna and the overall performance of “Anna Bolena” were not what they could have been. The production, by the director David McVicar, is uninventive and safe. The sets, by Robert Jones (in his Met debut), are handsome and efficient but tamely traditional, using a matrix of rotating white brick walls and sliding wood panels to evoke the interiors and environs of Henry’s palaces. In Act I, when the king’s hunting party gathers, complete with two impressively large dogs, a bit of abstraction is introduced into the look of the production through some sculptural gray trees. Jenny Tiramani’s costumes are colorful, detailed and true to the period. Too true. This Henry could have come from the set of almost any of the innumerable films and television shows that have been made about the Tudors.

But the bigger problem was Marco Armiliato’s routine conducting. Mr. Armiliato has been valuable to the Met’s Italian repertory wing since his 1998 house debut. In “Anna Bolena” he conveyed an understanding of bel canto style, in which arching lines must be given room to spin and cast their spell and accompaniment patterns have to be flexible.

The singers seemed to feel supported by Mr. Armiliato, who was always there when they took expressive liberties. That was the problem. This performance needed a conductor to instill some intensity into the music, to keep the cast more on edge, especially in the early scenes. Much of the action occurs in highly charged bursts of dramatic recitative. But too often here the orchestra chords that buttress the vocal lines were listless. And the orchestra’s playing lacked character.

Previously, Ms. Netrebko had sung the role of Anna only at the Vienna State Opera this spring. She started tentatively on Monday, perhaps settling in for the long, hard night of singing that awaited her. She looked regal and splendid. And in a nice directorial touch, Anna first appeared with a little red-haired girl, clearly her daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth.

At 40, Ms. Netrebko may be in her vocal prime. Her sound is meltingly rich yet focused. Sustained tones have body and depth. Her contained vibrato exposed every slight slip from the center of a pitch, especially in midrange, but I’m not complaining. This remains a major voice, with resplendent colorings and built-in expressivity.

Bel canto purists have long debated whether Ms. Netrebko is a natural to the style, especially in her execution of coloratura passagework. She may not have the nimble precision exemplified by Beverly Sills (who was criticized in some circles for that very accuracy). Ms. Netrebko’s approach is to sing coloratura as an expressive elaboration of the vocal line, as she did affectingly as Anna. And she exudes vocal charisma.

Still, at moments throughout the evening her singing seemed cautious. She was at her best when sparring with other singers, especially the mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova, who was Giovanna (the queen’s lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour, though it’s best to stick to the Italian names, since “Anna Bolena,” with a libretto by Felice Romani, plays very loose with history). Ms. Gubanova has an ample, dark voice with a slightly hard-edged quality that takes some adjusting to. She sang Giovanna with incisive delivery, folding embellishments and runs into impassioned vocal lines.

Her character was a bundle of nerves in Donizetti’s inspired Act II scene in which Giovanna finally confesses to the queen that she has been the king’s mistress and will become his new wife. Again the orchestra under Mr. Armiliato seemed to hold back, rather than empower, the intensity these two artists were trying to summon on stage.

The bass Ildar Abdrazakov brought his earthy, muscular voice to the role of Enrico (Henry VIII). Though his passagework was muffled by his gravelly tones at times, he was an imposing presence, and he did not overplay the king’s brutishness. The tenor Stephen Costello won a hearty ovation for his Riccardo (Lord Richard Percy, Anna’s former lover). This was a big assignment for the gifted and game young tenor. Mr. Costello captured the character’s consuming adoration for Anna through his impetuous and anguished singing.

The role includes a touchstone tenor aria, “Vivi tu,” in which the condemned Riccardo implores his friend Lord Rocheford (Anna’s brother, here the solid bass-baritone Keith Miller) to evade the king’s wrath and go on living. Mr. Costello mostly navigated the music’s demanding passagework and exposed high notes. To hear this rising artist stretching himself was part of the excitement.

The mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford took on the trouser role of Mark Smeaton, a court musician with a fatal crush on Anna. Her singing was sometimes shaky but always honest and ardent. The able tenor Eduardo Valdes as the court official Hervey rounded out the cast. Every role is significant in an opera so rich with ensembles, including a climactic Act I sextet almost as memorable as the enduring sextet from Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” and more contrapuntally intricate.

Mr. Gelb has said that ideally the Met should make an artistic statement by presenting an ambitious new production every opening night. Two years ago he took a chance on Luc Bondy’s ill-conceived staging of Puccini’s “Tosca.” Last season came the premiere of Robert Lepage’s production of Wagner’s “Rheingold,” which is still being argued over, as audiences await the last two installments of the complete “Ring” cycle this season.

“Anna Bolena” represented a different sort of risk. To make a case for this great, overlooked opera a company must have a stellar soprano in the title role. Ms. Netrebko is that artist. If only she and her colleagues on stage had received more help from Mr. McVicar and Mr. Armiliato.

The gala evening performance was relayed to Times Square and to Lincoln Center Plaza, where there was seating for some 3,000 people who had scooped up free tickets earlier. After the curtain calls on stage, the “Anna Bolena” cast appeared on the Met’s outdoor balcony to the cheers of the crowd. This is becoming a welcome tradition under Mr. Gelb.

“Anna Bolena” runs through Oct. 28, with additional performances in February, at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center; (212) 362-6000, metopera.org.

As ever, in the history of music, the “critics” are the ones who write and in many cases enhanced or destroyed a singer/musician’s career.  This has been the constant case from the inception of musical criticism with Schumann and Berlioz in the mid-nineteenth century.  This is not to say that Tommassini has any power to ruin Netrebko’s career, but he does have a huge audience by being the critic of one of the most powerful and well-read newspapers in the world.  So, NOW, now he chooses to talk about Bel Canto, about Italian singing when the last year brought absolutely horrifying presentations of Puccini and Verdi?  I absolutely agree with Mr. Tommassini, that Netrebko’s voice is one of the most beautiful voices cast at the Met this year, but let’s not discuss pitch or wavering from it, shall we, or we ought to have a new society for it.  Forgive me but Netrebko is the LEAST off pitch and her tone is unparalleled by her colleagues singing at the Met.  It seems that nothing was said about the extravagant flatness, sharpness, and completely disgusting Italian diction that was presented last season, was it?  In all, her singing is always expressive and she carries some of the mystique that singers of old carried with them, that implausible something that elevates them to the level of artists.  I agree that Armiliato was probably not the best choice to conduct Bolena and it is certainly too bad that Maestro Levine was not able to conduct this opening.  However, Bel Canto as the opening opera is not a choice made just to appease the rowdy public after that disastrous Tosca premiere last year (truly abominable), as Tommassini writes.  Bel Canto is the heart’s blood of the operatic machine that has withstood centuries.  More Bel Canto should be performed so that young singers will approach it without fear and with a more familiar ear.  I applaud the Met for presenting this difficult opera and to those who stretched their limits in trying to do the only thing they could in an age when those who truly understand Bel Canto are few and far between.

More Reviews:

Review by Mike Silverman of the Associated Press

“A Philadelphia Son Storms The Met” (Wall Street Journal)

 

The Last Verista’s Pick of the Week on MET OPERA RADIO: OPENING NIGHT AT THE MET! Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena” starring Anna Netrebko

Don’t miss opening night, tomorrow night!!! Catch it all on Sirius/XM Radio MET OPERA RADIO!! 

Don’t have Sirius/XM? Click here to listen live from the Met’s Live Stream for FREE!

Met’s Live Stream of Opening Night


Monday, September 26, 2011
6am: Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg  3/7/1959-Böhm; Edelmann, Nordmo-Lövberg, Feiersinger, Franke, Dönch, Resnik

12pm: Verdi: Otello
4/2/1994-Gergiev; Domingo, Vaness, Leiferkus, Bunnell, Croft

3pm: Janácek: Jenufa
12/21/1974-Nelson; Kubiak, Vickers, Varnay, Lewis, Kraft, Norden, Reardon, Di Franco, Love, Gill, Ordassy, Smith

6pm: Donizetti: Anna Bolena (LIVE FROM THE MET – SEASON PREMIERE)
Armiliato; Netrebko, Gubanova, Mumford, Costello, Abdrazakov

12am: Bellini: Il Pirata
2/8/2003-Campanella; Fleming, Giordani, Croft

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
6am: Verdi: Il Trovatore: 2/18/1967-Molinari-Pradelli; Tucker, Arroyo, Merrill, Cvejic, Michalski

9am: Massenet: Werther
1/23/1999-Runnicles; Hampson, Graham, Robertson, Evans

12pm: Wagner: Tannhäuser
1/21/1978-Levine; McCracken, Kubiak, Weikl, Bumbry, Macurdy

3pm: Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles
1/4/1992-Levine; Stratas, Hagegård, Quilico, Horne, Clark, Fleming

7:30pm: Verdi: Nabucco (LIVE FROM THE MET – SEASON PREMIERE)
Carignani; Guleghina, Tatum, Lee, Lučić, Colombara

12am: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
12/31/1966-Bonynge; Sutherland, Tucker, Colzani, Ghiuselev

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

6am: Verdi: I Vespri Siciliani
12/11/2004-Chaslin; Radvanovsky, Casanova, Nucci, Ramey

9am: Mozart: Don Giovanni
2/2/1991-Levine; Hampson, Studer, Schuman, Upshaw, Blochwitz, Plishka, Cokorinos

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

3pm: Puccini: Madama Butterfly
9/25/2006-Levine; Gallardo-Domâs, Giordani, Zifchak, Croft, Fedderly, Courtney, Won, Kulczak, Miller

6pm: Verdi: Otello
4/2/1994-Gergiev; Domingo, Vaness, Leiferkus, Bunnell, Croft

9pm: Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
3/7/1959-Böhm; Edelmann, Nordmo-Lövberg, Feiersinger, Franke, Dönch, Resnik

Thursday, September 29, 2011

6am: Janácek: Jenufa
12/21/1974-Nelson; Kubiak, Vickers, Varnay, Lewis, Kraft, Norden, Reardon, Di Franco, Love, Gill, Ordassy, Smith

9am: Bellini: Il Pirata
2/8/2003-Campanella; Fleming, Giordani, Croft

12pm: Verdi: Il Trovatore
2/18/1967-Molinari-Pradelli; Tucker, Arroyo, Merrill, Cvejic, Michalski

3pm: Massenet: Werther
1/23/1999-Runnicles; Hampson, Graham, Robertson, Evans

6pm: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
12/31/1966-Bonynge; Sutherland, Tucker, Colzani, Ghiuselev

9pm: : Wagner: Tannhäuser  1/21/1978-Levine; McCracken, Kubiak, Weikl, Bumbry, Macurdy

12:00 AM ET Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles
1/4/1992-Levine; Stratas, Hagegård, Quilico, Horne, Clark, Fleming

Friday, September 30, 2011

6am: Verdi: Otello
4/2/1994-Gergiev; Domingo, Vaness, Leiferkus, Bunnell, Croft

9am: Puccini: Madama Butterfly
9/25/2006-Levine; Gallardo-Domâs, Giordani, Zifchak, Croft, Fedderly, Courtney, Won, Kulczak, Miller

12pm: Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
3/7/1959-Böhm; Edelmann, Nordmo-Lövberg, Feiersinger, Franke, Dönch, Resnik

6pm: Verdi: I Vespri Siciliani
12/11/2004-Chaslin; Radvanovsky, Casanova, Nucci, Ramey

9pm: Mozart: Don Giovanni
2/2/1991-Levine; Hampson, Studer, Schuman, Upshaw, Blochwitz, Plishka, Cokorinos

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

Saturday, October 1, 2011

6am: Wagner: Tannhäuser
1/21/1978-Levine; McCracken, Kubiak, Weikl, Bumbry, Macurdy

9am: Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles
1/4/1992-Levine; Stratas, Hagegård, Quilico, Horne, Clark, Fleming

1pm: Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (LIVE FROM THE MET –SEASON PREMIERE) Benini; Leonard, Camarena, Mattei, Muraro, Burchuladze 

6pm; Bellini: Il Pirata:  2/8/2003-Campanella; Fleming, Giordani, Croft

9pm: Verdi: Il Trovatore
2/18/1967-Molinari-Pradelli; Tucker, Arroyo, Merrill, Cvejic, Michalski

12am: Janácek: Jenufa
12/21/1974-Nelson; Kubiak, Vickers, Varnay, Lewis, Kraft, Norden, Reardon, Di Franco, Love, Gill, Ordassy, Smith

Sunday, October 2, 2011

6am: R. Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos
1/5/1985-Davis; Norman, Cochran, Rolandi, Ewing, Weller, Duesing

9am: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
12/31/1966-Bonynge; Sutherland, Tucker, Colzani, Ghiuselev

12pm: Verdi: I Vespri Siciliani
12/11/2004-Chaslin; Radvanovsky, Casanova, Nucci, Ramey

3pm: Mozart: Don Giovanni
2/2/1991-Levine; Hampson, Studer, Schuman, Upshaw, Blochwitz, Plishka, Cokorinos

6pm: Puccini: Madama Butterfly
9/25/2006-Levine; Gallardo-Domâs, Giordani, Zifchak, Croft, Fedderly, Courtney, Won, Kulczak, Miller

9pm: The Met on Record: Verdi: I Lombardi (1996) Levine; Anderson, Leech, Pavarotti, Ramey

12am: Massenet: Werther
1/23/1999-Runnicles; Hampson, Graham, Robertson, Evans