Cher Public

Harmony of contrasts

didonatoProgramming in solo CDs can range from the banal to the fascinating. On the one hand, one cannot fault the record companies for releasing single-composer arias discs that they know will move copies. After all, who doesn’t want to hear Anna or Jonas sing their way through Verdi and Puccini’s greatest hits?

On the other hand, singers like Joyce DiDonato repeatedly mine the repertoire for rarities which have not already been recorded dozens of time. And DiDonato always thinks thematically in putting a CD program together. Even her all-Rossini album focused on roles associated with Isabella Colbran, Rossini’s muse and wife. There was no Barbiere or Cenerentola to be found on that disc.  Read more »

Stop me if you’ve heard this one

Ghosts amazonIn 1991, the Metropolitan Opera gave a lavish production of a new commission many years in the making: John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles with a libretto by William M. Hoffman. At the time, I was a teen who had recently caught the opera bug and had seen my first live opera only the year before.

In the intervening 25 years, I’ve only known the opera by name, never having heard a note. So, when La Cieca asked me to write a review of the new audio recording, taken from live performances at L.A. Opera, I said that I’d only be able to approach it from a fresh, newcomer’s perspective.  Read more »

Sag, welch wunderbare Träume

Before audiences around the world saw his celebrated production of Wagner’s Parsifal, Toronto audiences were introduced to the operatic work of Quebec director François Girard at the Canadian Opera Company. He made his company debut with a striking double-bill of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms, and followed up with his distinctive Siegfried, with Canada’s set designer extraordinaire, Michael Levine, as his collaborative partner in all three.   Read more »

Pyramus

Myths, matched

“CanCon”, or Canadian Content, is always a concern in Canadian cultural discourse.

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Kaufmann_amazon

Awakenings

There is a simple elegance to the single-composer recital album format. For the listener in the mood for, say, Puccini, it’s a chance to delve into his music without any pesky interruptions by those other guys like Verdi or Massenet. And if one is also in the mood for a particular singer’s art, then the choice is even more straightforward. For the singer, it is an opportunity to showcase and explore the variety and nuance that a single composer offers to his/her voice type, while also displaying his/her own skill at presenting a varied recital experience within narrow confines.  

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aida_amazon

A desert breeze whispering a lullaby

The studio opera recording is a rare beast these days and its arrival always a cause for celebration.

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Mattila

From the depths

I was greatly anticipating Karita Mattila’s recital on Friday in Toronto’s Koerner Hall.

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