16 October 2006

Veils, song

As if those opera queens (you know La Cieca is talking to you, cher public) don't already have more than enough to listen to, what with Unnatural Acts of Opera, plus Sirius Met Broadcasts, plus various streaming radio on the internet -- well, now there's lots more where that came from. Well, anyway, one more from where that came from -- the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which will resume its broadcasts beginning this Saturday night, October 21.

This will be the first series of broadcasts from the Lyric Opera since the 2001- 2002 season, and LOC is kicking off the new broadcasts with a bang -- the opening night of Salome, featuring Deborah Voigt's first staged performance of the title role. The live broadcast will be on WFMT, 98.7 starting at 7:30 PM Central Time, and La Cieca has just learned that the broadcast will be streamed live over wfmt.com.

This works out particularly well, since there is no live Met Sirius performance that night. La Cieca knows how harried you get, cher public, when you have to choose which broadcast to listen to, and one at a time is all she can handle as well, at least until someone invents the internet radio equivalent of Tivo.

Well, that's Saturday night, but right now it's Monday, and La Cieca has some podcasting to do. Tonight's program, La Cieca hopes, you will find a special treat. The fabulous Regine Crespin is heard in recital at Hunter College on November 11, 1967, partnered by John Wustman on the 88s. This Unnatural Act of Opera program will be available beginning tonight, October 16.

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12 September 2006

Endless Love?

The Artists Formerly Known As The Love Couple made one of their now-rare duo appearances last weekend singing something called "Come Prima" at a BBC concert in London's Hyde Park. The poster for the event suggests that Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna are shall we say, growing apart.

Why the distance between the once-inseparable team? Don't go blaming Sir Terry Wogan! But could it have something to do with the unbilled appearance of "hunky Romanian pop singer/actor" Stefan Banica Jr.?

Mr. Banica, star of such film epics as Liceenii rock’n roll (1990) and Sexi harem Ada-Kaleh (1999), recently created the role of Billy Flynn in the first Bucharest company of Chicago. He is seen here soulfully duetting with compatriot Gheorghiu.

So, just how simpatico were Gheorghiu and Banica onstage? Well, let's put it this way: the Beeb's website captioned this photo "Angela Gheorghiu duets with Roberto Alagna."

If you care to hear how this concert sounded, you can access it at BBC Radio 2. La Cieca's correspondent on the scene in Hyde Park suggests, "Use the 5 min skip button to miss the less interesting items. Angela's first contribution is 10 minutes in. Roberto's, followed by their duet, is about 50 minutes in, and the rest 1 hour 15 mins." Though, be warned, you'll miss "Italian sensation Vittorio Grigolo, plus trumpet player Alison Balsom and special guest, music legend Lionel Richie."

Alas, the afternoon portion of the concert was not broadcast, so you'll just have to use your mind's ear to imagine the performances of "Madness tribute band One Step Behind, irrepressible cockney duo Chas & Dave, and poptastic singer Chico."

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16 August 2006

Bleak bummer

Which soprano's sudden cancellation of all her future engagements thankfully has nothing to do with illness, and everything to do with, well, spite? She was in love, and he she loved proved bad, and did forsake her. For his secretary. Since the songbird's soon-to-be-ex-husband still has an interest in her future revenue stream, she has decided to sit and sulk rather than financing the love nest.

Meanwhile, the casts, they are a-changin' over at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Simon Keenlyside is out of Iphigenie en Tauride, replacement TBA and obviously soon, since the production opens in a little over a month. And mezzo-soprano Jane Irwin will be Mere Marie in LOC's Dialogues of the Carmelites, replacing the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

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14 July 2006

Gong show

La Cieca hears that tenor Dongwon Shin saved the day at Opera Australia last night (or would that be tomorrow night?) when he jumped in on barely a day's notice as Calaf in Turandot. And most of that "day" was spent on a plane from Chicago to Sydney! First reports are that the Sydney audience gave Shin a huge ovation "like nothing we've seen here in years."

Here's a clip of Shin in Turandot opposite Jennifer Wilson, his prima donna at Opera Australia.

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06 January 2006

The Price is right!

With the new year always come new year's resolutions, and La Cieca thinks that this year her resolution will be to stop making snap judgments. La Cieca hopes you understand that she only got into the habit of making all those snap judgments because she is right almost all of the time. But now and then, La Cieca does miss the boat, and she is the first to admit it. Or at least she is among the first. One such erroneous snap judgement La Cieca made was about Dame Margaret Price. Way, way back in the 1970s, when her brain was probably addled with too much, uh, disco music, La Cieca heard a couple of recordings of Dame Margaret's singing, and, well it just somehow rubbed La Cieca the wrong way. La Cieca used words like "hooty" and "straight tone" and perhaps the most destructive snap judgement of all, "not my cup of tea." Well, now it turns out that Margaret Price should have been La Cieca's cup of tea all those years, had La Cieca bothered to take more than a single sip. And so, on this week's episode of "Unnatural Acts of Opera," La Cieca presents a performance from, ironically enough, 1981, when Dame Margaret appeared as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony. She sings, first, the "Four Last Songs" of Richard Strauss, and then selections from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" of Gustav Mahler. As an encore, we hear Agathe's "Leise, leise" from 1973. Unnatural Acts of Opera


02 November 2005

Man-on-Manon action

La Cieca must be getting her librettos confused. She knows that Baby Doe promises she will wait for Horace Tabor near the entrance to the Mineshaft. And, of course, back in the late '70s, any number of Gotham-based operatic evenings wound up at this venereal venue. But this is the first time La Cieca has ever heard that Manon Lescaut was a devotee of S&M -- as evidenced by her participation in this blistering scene:

This photo (by Dan Rest) is from Playbill Arts' feature on the new Lyric Opera of Chicago production production of the Puccini opera. And note that the caption reads: "bottom: Karita Mattila as Manon Lescaut." And La Cieca was sure Karita was a top!


13 June 2005

Web of mystery

La Cieca is just asking -- why should the Web site of that prominent American baritone suddenly go offline? This artist (recently at the pinnacle of his career) has done musicals before, but this fancy footwork looks like something from Chicago!

And which switch-hitting intendant is making noises about quitting his summer job? Is he feeling cooped up, or is it just that he wants to spend more time looking at New York City real estate?

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15 December 2004

Lyric drama

Once Matthew Epstein has left Chicago (as reported this morning at musicalamerica.com), you can be sure he'll have better things to do than rest on his laurels. La Cieca hears that Matthew has his eye on San Francisco Opera, succeeding Pamela Rosenberg there. But the competition for this post is fierce: front runners include Charles MacKay of St. Louis and Christopher Hahn of Pittsburgh. And yet another prospective intendant has recently thrown her hat in the ring: none other than Carol Vaness is ready to be "directa" of SFO.

Update (December 16): The whirlwind of speculation over the next career move of Matthew Epstein continues. A usually reliable source informs La Cieca that, no, Matthew is not going to run San Francisco Opera; rather, he'll take on a prestigious position with Sony. The SFO gig (our source continues) will almost certainly go to David Gockley. So who gets Houston, then? Stay tuned.

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