New Poll: What is your favourite International Opera House?

With all the talk of closing opera houses and companies, I thought it appropriate to ask this question.

Which house gives you chills just by walking in the door?

Is it because of who sang there?

Is it because of who conducted there or which opera premiered there?

Is it because of the history associated with the building?

Tell TLV which of these fabulous houses is your favourite!

The Metropolitan Opera


Teatro Alla Scala (Milano)

La Scala Interior

Wiener Staatsoper

Vienna Staatsoper

Berliner Staatsoper

Berlin Staatsoper

Bayerische Staatsoper

Bayerische Staatsoper

Canadian Opera Company


Royal Opera House (London)

Royal Opera House

Paris Opera (Palais Garnier)

Palais Garnier

Sydney Opera House


La Fenice (Venice)

La Fenice

Hungarian State Opera (Budapest)


Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow)


Liceu Barcellona


Semperoper Dresden

Semperoper Dresden

Bayreuth Festspielhaus


Teatro Municipal (Rio de Janiero)


Boston Opera

Boston Opera

War Memorial Opera House (San Francisco)

San Franscisco Opera

Teatro dell’Opera (Roma)


Opera Bastille


Operachat begins tomorrow night at 6:30pm


Aficionados, singers, and opera lovers, join me tomorrow night for the live broadcast of the Met’s season opener, Eugene Onegin.  An opera chat link will be available tomorrow and the chat will begin at 6:30pm.  TLV will join a little after 7pm. Come share your opinions, discuss singing, and hear an opening night, which is always an historic event, with other opera lovers.  See you there!

Metropolitan Opera


“Un Peu De Couleur Français”: Debussy’s Influence On Italian Opera

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting an article in honour of Claude Debussy’s anniversary year here on TLV.  While we await the 2013 anniversary celebrations for  both Verdi and Wagner, I thought it might be fascinating to pay some attention to Debussy and how he did or didn’t influenced Italian Opera.  With his unmistakable colour palate and propensity toward the combination of tones (clusters and blurring), Debussy initiated the use of mixed chords and colours that found their way into the works of Italian composers, most notably Giacomo Puccini.  In addition to the multi-part article, I will also be posting a new Audio link that will present some of Debussy’s music and excerpts from Italian works where his style is most vividly recognizable.  Stay tuned for more on TLV!

Millo’s love letter to Puccini

On a day of anniversary, these thoughts from a great soprano could not be overlooked. Her posting on Operavision could not have been more well-researched or heart-felt. In a time when appearance is more important than voice, I cannot be quiet, and will NOT be quiet, nor still in knowing that THIS great Minnie ought to be singing tonight. For any who heard her Laggiu nel Soledad at her 25th anniversary recital in November of 2009…and me, who has the distinct pleasure of hearing this voice more often, recently, than most…her inflection, emotion, quality of tone and gargantuan high C would have sent Puccini soaring, and yet she routes on her colleagues and wishes for the best possible presentation for them. A true elegant Diva…folllowing the examples of her mentors. I honor him today and I honor her voice as the only true and authentic voice alive today that belongs to the Girl of the Golden West.

Listen to Millo’s performance of “Laggiu nel Soledad” from the 25th Anniversary 2009

Millo’s Love Letter to the Golden West

World AIDS Day: Visit a Starbucks today or Fight AIDS at VOICES OF HOPE 2010, with Jean Stilwell


On World AIDS Day (Tuesday, December 1), Starbucks will make a five cent U.S. contribution to the Global Fund forevery hand-crafted beverage sold at participating locations in the U.S. and Canada.

In just one year in partnership with (RED)TM, Starbucks has generated enough money to buy more than 7 million daysof medicine to help those living with HIV in Africa. Overall, (RED) partners and events have generated $140 million and these funds have supported AIDS programs in Africa that have reached more than 4 million people. 



If customers are unable to make it to their Starbucks on World Aids Day, they can still be a part of the fight against AIDS in Africa by visiting There they can contribute a drawing to the ‘Love Gallery’ and for each drawing Starbucks will make a five cent U.S. contribution to the Global Fund, up to 1 million drawings.

Also, you can attend “VOICES OF HOPE 2010,” a great concert that includes my great friend and world-class mezzo-soprano, Jean Stilwell, along with her consummate pianist, Patti Loach.

Host – Tom Allen of CBC Radio2
Gerald Martindale, Carillonneur, Metropolitan United Church
Douglas Rice, piano
Bar and Bench Choir
St. Michael Catholic School Choir, choral
The Nylons
Amber O’Hara, aboriginal drummer
Christian Jeffries, drag performer
Forte – The Toronto Men’s Chorus
Dr. Eugene Draw, pyrotechnic electric violinist
Jean Stilwell (voice) & Patti Loach (piano), with guest Brad Hampton
The Regent Park School of Music

NEW!!! The Last Verista Podcast

Opera/Classical Podcast

The Last Verista: a “scream” of consciousness, is a blog devoted to all things musical, but specifically opera, classical genres, latin accordion repertoire, and literature.  The podcasts reflect these genres and provide listeners with various and sundry performances (studio recordings and live performances) that have remained true and authentic testaments of each genre.  Bringing “a scream of consciousness” to the modern age, blasts from the past, and the passionate voices of art to those who are game enough to succumb to the majesty of music.


Podcasts may be downloaded by clicking on the RSS link in the sidebar or you can listen here by clicking play on the Audio player below.

Published in: on October 23, 2010 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

March’s Singer of the Month: Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957)

b Recanati, 20 March 1890; d Rome, 30 Nov 1957). One of the most beautiful voices there ever was belonged to Italian tenor, Beniamino Gigli. In Rome, after lessons from Agnese Bonucci, he won a scholarship to the Liceo Musicale; his teachers were Cotogni and Rosati. In 1914 he won an international competition at Parma, and on 14 October that year made a successful début in La Gioconda at Rovigo. In 1915 his Faust in Boito’s Mefistofele was highly appreciated at Bologna under Serafin and at Naples under Mascagni. Spain was the scene of his first successes abroad, in 1917. The climax of his early career was his appearance in the memorial performance of Mefistofele at La Scala on 19 November 1918. On 26 November 1920 he made a brilliant début (again in Mefistofele) at the Metropolitan Opera, where he remained as principal tenor for 12 consecutive seasons, singing no fewer than 28 of his total of 60 roles.

In the lyrical and romantic repertory, Gigli was regarded as the legitimate heir of Caruso (Martinelli excelled in the more dramatic and heroic parts). The operas in which he was most often heard were La bohème, La Gioconda, L’Africaine, Andrea Chénier and Mefistofele. His Covent Garden début was in Andrea Chénier on 27 May 1930, with subsequent appearances in 1931, 1938 and 1946. In 1932 he left the Metropolitan, declining to accept a substantial reduction of the salary paid him before the Depression. Thereafter he pursued his career more actively in Italy, elsewhere in Europe, and in South America, returning to the Metropolitan, for five performances only, in 1939. A favourite of Mussolini, Gigli was at first under a cloud after the dictator’s fall, but returned to sing in Tosca at the Rome Opera in March 1945, and in November 1946 reappeared at Covent Garden with the S Carlo company in La bohème, with his daughter, Rina Gigli, as Mimì. He continued to appear in opera at Naples and at Rome as late as 1953, and in concerts almost until his death.

Smoothness, sweetness and fluency were the outstanding marks of Gigli’s singing. His style was essentially popular, both in its virtues and its limitations: natural, vital and spontaneous on the one hand, but always liable to faults of taste – to a sentimental style of portamento, for instance, or the breaking of the line by sobs, or ostentatious bids for stage applause ‘like a picturesque beggar appealing for alms’ (Ernest Newman). He missed refinement in Mozart, and was unequal to the technical demands of ‘Il mio tesoro’; in Verdi he was more at home, although notably happier when, as in the second scene of Un ballo in maschera or the last act of Rigoletto, his grandees had adopted popular disguise; best of all in Puccini and the melodramatic lyricism of Andrea Chénier and La Gioconda. His mellifluous cantilena in such pieces as Nadir’s romance in Les pêcheurs de perles was consummately beautiful. Gigli was something less than a great artist; but as a singer pure and simple he was among the greatest.

His many recordings offer a complete portrait of his long career; outstandingly successful are the arias from Mefistofele, Martha, L’elisir d’amore, La Gioconda and Faust, duets with De Luca from La forza del destino and Les pêcheurs de perles, and the complete recordings of Andrea Chénier and La Bohème. Gigli was also a seductively charming interpreter of Neapolitan and popular songs, and delighted 1930s cinema audiences with his portrayals of ingenuous and lovestruck tenors.

From the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

The Last Verista wants you to help support Ovarian Cancer Research in honour of soprano, Stacey Micoli and Geri Tallone for 2010

This past year, my dear friends and I have lost two wonderful, artistic individuals to Ovarian Cancer.  Stacey Micoli was a beautiful young soprano and a graduate of the University at Buffalo, and Geri Tallone a great broadway and popular voice who graced New York and other American cities with her soulful beauty.  As an honour to them this holiday season and the notion that our artists are suffering from a disease that is in need of continued research, I have posted a widget on this blog for you to offer your support in this cause.  To Geri, Stacey, and all others who have been affected by Ovarian Cancer, we are strong with you.  God Bless.

Stacey Micoli

Geri Tallone

Published in: on December 7, 2009 at 2:15 am  Comments (3)  
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