All 2017 Features

Year of Wonder, by Clemency Burton-Hill [book review]
Saturday, December 09, 2017 |  Clemency Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder has the subtitle “Classical Music for Every Day” and is a potpourri of the known and little-known and even the most ardent music-lover is likely to encounter pieces hitherto unfamiliar. 
The music of Geraldine Mucha – a Prague concert and an Arco Diva recording
Thursday, November 30, 2017 |  An unexpected connection between Scotland and the Czech Republic is in the process of establishing itself in the music of Geraldine Mucha (1917-2012). 
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962-2017)
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 |  The Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who died on November 22 aged fifty-five, burst onto the Western operatic scene when he won the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World competition. That final also included singers who have enjoyed international careers such as Monica Groop and Hillevi Martinpelto, but it culminated in a “battle of the baritones” with Bryn Terfel... ... He sang often at Covent Garden making his debut as Riccardo in Andrei Serban’s production of Bellini’s I Puritani. His later Verdi roles there included Giorgio Germont in La traviata, Francesco in I Masnadieri, Count Luna in Il trovatore, Renato in Un ballo in maschera and the title role in Rigoletto. 
Leading Tones by Leonard Slatkin [book review]
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 |  Leading Tones, like its predecessor Conducting Business, as the flyleaf note confirms is an episodic and often discursive trawl through the experiences and thoughts of a conductor regarding his professional career. Leonard Slatkin covers his memories of working with the various orchestras with which he has had formal positions, the people with whom he has had most pleasure working, cautionary tales about critics and life in administrative backwaters. ... There are six colleagues cited whose friendship he has enjoyed and treasured, not least Gilbert Kaplan, the magazine proprietor who, without any musical training, took up a single work – Mahler's ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, learnt how to conduct, so that he could perform it and devoted the rest of his life to this mission. Slatkin's help to enable Kaplan to realise his ambition is a really interesting read. 
Bampton Classical Opera – Young Singers’ Competition 2017
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 |  This was the third Young Singers’ Competition convened by Bampton Classical Opera since the competition’s inception in 2013, aimed at identifying emerging talent among opera singers working in the UK who are aged between twenty-one and thirty-two. 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2017-18: Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel [Showing on November 18]
Thursday, November 02, 2017 |  There are few operas, even in the modern day, that have a film screenplay as their source, but the great Spanish director Luis Buñuel’s film of 1962 El ángel exterminador provides the creative urge for Thomas Adès for his third major stage-work. 
Feature Review: Kenneth MacMillan – A National Celebration at the Royal Opera House
Friday, October 27, 2017 |  That the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Kenneth MacMillan is being marked by six UK dance companies is cause enough to cheer – deceased choreographers need their champions if their works are not to be forgotten, and none would have had such a doughty promoter and defender as his widow, Lady MacMillan. She has tirelessly exercised strict control over her late husband’s ballets, but has found the promotion of his shorter, one-act works difficult – every company wants Romeo and Juliet and/or Manon, but is rather more reticent when it comes to the others. ... 
George Enescu International Music Festival 2017
Sunday, October 15, 2017 |  The twenty-first Edition of the George Enescu International Festival, the first to take place with Zubin Mehta as its Honorary President and Vladimir Jurowski as its Artistic Director, inevitably packed a great deal into its twenty-two days as concerns variety of both music and artists. 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2017-18: Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte – Julie Taymor’s production, conducted by James Levine [Showing on October 14]
Saturday, October 07, 2017 |  The Classical Source once again brings you a handy guide to all ten of the Metropolitan Opera productions included in this season’s international broadcast series. ... Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) is amongst the most-popular of Mozart’s operas and a great introduction to the art-form. ... A handsome young prince, Tamino, is sent forth by the Queen of the Night and her three attendant ladies to rescue her daughter Pamina whom has been abducted by her enemy Sarastro and held captive. Tamino is given a ‘magic flute’, and is accompanied by the Queen’s genial bird-catcher Papageno and his ‘magic bells’. ... The Met’s Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts; he’s a veteran of the piece. Golda Schulz takes the role of Pamina and is partnered by Charles Castronovo as Tamino, and Kathryn Lewek reprises her interpretation of the Queen of the Night. There’s luxury casting in the role of Sarastro with René Pape... 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2017-18: Bellini’s Norma – David McVicar’s production, with Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja; conducted by Carlo Rizzi [Showing on October 7]
Thursday, September 21, 2017 |  The Classical Source once again brings you a handy guide to all ten of the Metropolitan Opera productions included in this season’s international broadcast series. Norma is full of classic encounters through duets and trios. The most famous aria is ‘Casta diva’... ... Carlo Rizzi conducts and Sondra Radvanovsky, an intensely dramatic performer with a rich and agile voice, is Norma, and is no stranger to the demanding role. The thought of her performing with another brilliant singing-actress, Joyce DiDonato, is inspiring. This pairing could become as legendary as Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne. Joseph Calleja essays Pollione... 
Overture and Beginners Please [book review]
Thursday, September 07, 2017 |  Anthya Cohen (née Rael) was one of three children born in South Africa during the 1940s to Gertie and Issie Israel, whose parents had emigrated from Eastern Europe in 1905. ... At her lodgings in Muswell Hill, Anthya found herself among some interesting housemates, one of whom was the thirty-year-old violinist Raymond Cohen... ... Over the ensuing decades, apart from pursuing his own career (he was the final leader that Sir Thomas Beecham appointed to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Raymond gave recitals with Anthya... 
Divas: Mathilde Marchesi and Her Pupils [book review]
Saturday, September 02, 2017 |  Not enough attention is paid to teachers in the musical world, yet without them we would have no composers or performers. This book by an Australian enthusiast for historical singers is unusual, in that it supplements the life of the celebrated Mathilde Marchesi with mini-biographies of her most successful pupils. She sits at the centre of a web, and Roger Neill sometimes loses sight of her, while the brightest light is shed by the artists at the web’s periphery – above all, Nellie Melba. 
Feature Review: Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts 2017
Thursday, August 31, 2017 |  The Presteigne Festival (“situated on the English/Welsh border near Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Llandrindrod Wells and Ludlow”) offers an expansive musical feast with its accent on living and mainly British composers contrasted, in this thirty-fifth year, with a focus on Danish composers. Innovation and experimentation is central to the vision of artistic director George Vass... 
Barbara Cook (1927-2017) – An Appreciation
Sunday, August 13, 2017 |  Barbara Cook had one of the best voices ever heard on Broadway. ... ...from Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer, Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick, Lerner & Loewe, Rodgers & Hart, the lyrics of Dorothy Fields and Oscar Hammerstein II and, naturally enough, the work of Stephen Sondheim... ... In 1956 she created the role of Cunegonde in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide based on the novel by Voltaire. ... Fortunately she was discovered or re-discovered by Wally Harper, a musician, composer and arranger for such shows as Company, The Grand Tour, My One and Only, Nine, and Grand Hotel... ... London was lucky to see Barbara Cook in concert and cabaret, firstly at the Country Cousin venue in Chelsea, then at the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden... 
A guitar threesome – recordings of music by Antoine Lhoyer, Johann Kaspar Mertz, and Schubert Songs
Wednesday, August 09, 2017 |  Grouped by the guitar, these three discs, available separately and as you please, include tuneful and diverting works by Antoine de Lhoyer (1768-1852), “a French royalist and professional soldier” who was also reckoned to be “the best guitar player in Europe”. ... Jens Franke is common to all three of these discs. He can also be heard solo in a release entitled “Bardic Song” (recorded 2009 and 2010) focussed on the music and arrangements of Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-56). ... And the final disc is all-Schubert, seventeen songs (including some of the most popular) with guitar accompaniment. 
A Tanglewood Diary – July 7-16, 2017 – Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons, Anne-Sophie Mutter, John Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Stephen Sondheim, Resurrection Symphony, Das Rheingold, Daniil Trifonov, The Knights…
Tuesday, July 18, 2017 |  I spent ten days at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home... ... The concerts included Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony and Wagner’s Das Rheingold, both conducted by Andris Nelsons... ... A rainy afternoon gave way to clear skies in time for the symphonic version of Sondheim on Sondheim... ... In the evening, in Ozawa Hall, a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald featured Stephanie Blythe, Dawn Upshaw, six TMC Vocal Fellows and Three TMC Piano Fellows... ... In Ozawa Hall Daniil Trifonov's recital embraced Schumann – Kinderszenen, Toccata, Kreisleriana – five Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues (from Opus 87) and Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka. ... Anne-Sophie Mutter joined Nelsons and the BSO for the world premiere of John Williams’s Markings, which explores the entire range of the violin... 
Better Heard Than Seen – The Fhadikistania Conducting Competition, written by Leonard Slatkin
Monday, July 10, 2017 |  A conducting competition with a difference begins in Radom, Poland on July 9... ... The Fhadikistania Artistic Knowledge and Equality (F.A.K.E) concert series will commence in January, 2018.  
They’re Off and Flying, a piano competition in the future, a stellar speculation by Leonard Slatkin
Saturday, June 24, 2017 |  Having spent three weeks as head of the jury for the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and having learned a little something about what occurs at these events, I decided to speculate as to how a tournament announcement might read one hundred years from now. 
Feature Review: English Haydn Festival 2017 [June 7-11]
Friday, June 16, 2017 |  The 2017 English Haydn Festival had several innovative features. The inclusion of lesser-known (and often unduly neglected) composers of Joseph Haydn’s era has long been an attractive feature and this year included a UK premiere and also a first performance of a work in tribute to Haydn commissioned by the Festival Trust. ... Steven Devine was this year’s principal conductor, replacing the indisposed Anthony Halstead. ... Like Standage, Serbin also serves the Festival well – Concertos, leading the cellos, and typically including a rarity, this year the Symphonie concertante by Leopold Hofmann (1738-1793), for two cellos, which includes a Minuet with a Trio for the cellos and a virtuoso part for double bass. Christophe Coin was partnered by Serbin and they achieved ideal unity and immaculate playing. Haydn’s ‘Clock’ Symphony (No.101) again raised thoughts about layout... ... At St Leonard’s shortly afterwards, Quatuor Mosaïques performed Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour On the Cross (Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze) in the reduction Haydn made in 1787, losing some melodic lines assigned to woodwinds, not what one would expect of him. Without the colourful orchestration, is the quartet version of any value? 
Ancient and modern: one day at Aldeburgh [10 June 2017]
Thursday, June 15, 2017 |  Benjamin Britten was thoroughly interested in the dialogue between the old and the new; so it was fitting that the first two premieres of this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, Olga Neuwirth’s A Film Music War Requiem and James Weeks’s Primo Libro, both engage with the same challenge. ... If Neuwirth’s aural world is shattered, that of the 16th-century Italian madrigal composers leading up to Gesualdo is resolutely cohesive. Yet as Exaudi’s concert reminded, they could often fit in the strangest fashion: so the oddly truncated parish church of Orford, a few miles from Snape, was an appropriate setting. ... Back at Snape Maltings, the Belcea Quartet brought unfussy delivery of Haydn’s D-major String Quartet (Opus 20/4), concentrating on the small phrases, and later for Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet with Jörg Widmann. But the heart of the programme was an impassioned reading of Britten’s Third and final String Quartet... 
BBC Proms Guide for 2017 – some reflections
Tuesday, May 09, 2017 |  Back in 1960 when I bought my first Proms Prospectus it cost sixpence and the price had been the same since at least 1945. It was a modest publication totalling thirty-six pages, only seven of which were advertisements. This year's Guide boasts more than 180 pages, fifty of which are advertising and the cover price is £7.00 – more than the cost of a promenading place. 
Feature Review – BBC Symphony Orchestra – Total Immersion: The Complete Edgard Varèse [6 May 2017]
Monday, May 08, 2017 |  With his extant output of little more than a dozen works, Edgard Varèse (1883-1965) was an obvious choice for inclusion in the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Total Immersion days. ... The remaining works were entrusted to the Guildhall New Music Ensemble, skilfully guided by Geoffrey Paterson. Hyperprism (1922) made an explosive impact out of all proportion to its (four-minute) length, while Offrandes (1921) finds Varèse setting texts by two Spanish surrealist poets in music whose alluring yet menacing aura was tellingly complemented by Burns’s vocal agility. ... That evening concert was nevertheless a fitting culmination. Programming six Varèse pieces was itself a feat, though the BBC Symphony Orchestra is no stranger to this music and Sakari Oramo can be relied upon to rise to the occasion. There was nothing underwhelming about his account of Arcana (1927), Varèse’s evocation of that otherness within the universe unfolding as an amalgam of massive passacaglia and quirky sonata design... 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2016-17: Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier – Robert Carsen’s production, with Renée Fleming, Elīna Garanča, Erin Morley and Günther Groissböck; conducted by Sebastian Weigle [Showing on Saturday May 13]
Monday, May 01, 2017 |  Der Rosenkavalier was the fifth opera by Richard Strauss and his second collaboration with author and poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal. ... In Vienna Princess Marie Thérèse, the Marschallin, is having an extra-marital affair (not her first) with Octavian, the seventeen-year-old Count Rofrano (sung by a mezzo-soprano) whilst her field-marshal husband is on a hunting trip. The orchestral introduction depicts in graphic terms a night of sexual passion... ... Waltzes! There are also some amazing set-pieces, too. The orchestral introductions to each Act define the settings and the action. The Marschallin’s expressive Act One monologue offers marvellous opportunities for the soprano. The Presentation of the Rose is one of the highlights of Act Two – Strauss cleverly indicating the moment when Octavian and Sophie’s eyes first meet; the build-up is exhilarating. Ochs has a big scene to close the second Act... ... This new staging, between Metropolitan Opera and Royal Opera, has already been seen in London. Renée Fleming sings the Marschallin, one of her calling-cards, her creamy voice so suited to the role. The demanding roles of Octavian and Ochs are respectively performed by Elīna Garanča and Günther Groissböck; her velvety voice should be ideal and he should also be heard to advantage. Erin Morley portrays Sophie... 
The Fourth Symphony of George Enescu – Historical Footnote or Major Rediscovery? [UK premiere, April 29]
Saturday, April 22, 2017 |  The UK premiere of Enescu’s Fourth Symphony is given by the Oberon Symphony Orchestra and Samuel Draper on Saturday April 29 at St James’s Church, Sussex Gardens, London... ... Crucially, however, the remainder of the score had been fully drafted – not least when compared with, say, Mahler’s Tenth or Elgar’s Third – and this duly enabled Bentoiu to undertake its completion without fear of imposing his own creative persona on music that is wholly characteristic of its composer. ... Had it been completed at the time, Enescu’s Fourth Symphony could quite easily have taken its place in the company of such combative Symphonies of the 1930s as Vaughan Williams’s Fourth, Walton’s First and Shostakovich’s Fifth. 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2016-17: Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin – Deborah Warner’s production with Peter Mattei and Anna Netrebko; conducted by Robin Ticciati [Showing on Saturday April 22]
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 |  Ask people to name a Russian opera and the chances are that they will say Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin or Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Both dispense with a progressive Act format and were composed as a succession of scenes. Tchaikovsky, as well as being an impressive symphonist, was a man of the theatre and composed three ballets (Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty) and some ten operas. ... Eugene Onegin is based on the eponymous novel... ... The great Swedish baritone Peter Mattei is singing the title role in this broadcast – it is one of his calling-cards and his return to it is eagerly anticipated. Opposite him, as Tatyana, is Anna Netrebko Her interpretation should be authentically Russian and will be the talk of the town! 
Mahlerian Madness – Leonard Slatkin [DSO webcast, April 8]
Thursday, April 06, 2017 |  I have a confession. Pretty much through my years as a student at the Juilliard School, I hated Gustav Mahler. ... This week, in Detroit, we will perform the Tenth. I have done the work before, but in an edition prepared by Remo Mazzetti. The composer died before completing the piece and during the 1960s, the first attempts to create a performing edition based on the sketches appeared. These were done by the English musicologist Deryck Cooke. It was his first of three attempts that I heard in New York. 
Heralding the London Handel Festival 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017 |  Becoming director of the London Handel Festival is something of a dream come true for Samir Savant, as it represents the happy conjunction of several strands in his professional and extra-curricular life to date... ... The Festival this year will feature a special gala concert to celebrate the 15th-anniversary of the setting up of the Competition, which will feature such past luminaries as Ruby Hughes and Iestyn Davies. ... The first event this year will be a ‘come and sing’ forum, in which people can take part in rehearsing and singing the four Coronation Anthems. There will be a screening of Norman Walker’s 1942 film The Great Mr Handel, starring Wilfrid Lawson and relating the circumstances in which Messiah came to be written. ... As the UK, at the present time, deals with the political fallout of the Brexit referendum and an apparent distancing from its European partners, it is important to be reminded that arguably the greatest composer to have worked at the centre of the British Establishment, forging a major sense of ‘Englishness’ in our musical culture, was one of the most cosmopolitan figures in any period of musical history, having been born in Germany, honing his compositional skills in Italy, and further travelled around Europe even after settling in England. 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2016-17: Mozart’s Idomeneo – Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s production with Matthew Polenzani, Alice Coote, Elza van den Heever, Nadine Sierra; conducted by James Levine [Showing on Saturday March 25]
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 |  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Idomeneo is a fascinating work, premiered in 1781 at the Cuvilliés Theatre in Munich. ... The opera has sublime music, but the pace can be erratic. However, it is important to note that Idomeneo remains a work of enormous interest given that Mozart never approved a definitive version. Richard Strauss and Benjamin Britten both created editions of their own in attempts to bring the work to stage life and public awareness so much did they admire and treasure the material. ... The staging is a classic by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. Great casts have graced this production, including Luciano Pavarotti. Now that lead role is sung by Matthew Polenzani and Ilia by Nadine Sierra. Alice Coote takes the trouser-role of Idamante and Elettra is Elza van den Heever. Alan Opie sings Idomeneo’s confidant Arbace, and James Levine conducts... 
Nicolai Gedda, 1925-2017 – An Appreciation
Sunday, March 05, 2017 |  The great tenor Nicolai Gedda, who died at the beginning of the year aged ninety-one, was perhaps the final precursor to the superstars of the modern era, for at the peak of his career he was an extraordinarily versatile, oft-recorded singer with a voice that could straddle many genres with stylistic ease. ... He was a stylish Mozartean – Tamino, Belmonte and Don Ottavio were all successes of his early career. He was also notable in French repertoire – Faust, Werther, Don José, Pelléas and Hoffmann – and brought charisma and flair to the operettas of Johann Strauss II and Lehár in treasurable recordings made with conductors such as Ackermann, Boskovsky and Matačić. ... From bel canto stage-works, Edgardo and Nemorino were favourite assumptions. Gedda’s powerful Arnold in Lamberto Gardelli’s recording of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell is a must-hear document and he also figures in the premiere recording of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa. His contribution to Sir Adrian Boult’s recording of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius (alongside Helen Watts and Robert Lloyd) is also notable for its idiomatic qualities... 
Feature review: Festival Présences 2017, Paris
Thursday, March 02, 2017 |  Radio France’s annual new-music shindig Festival Présences was founded by Claude Samuel in 1991. ... ...and a whopping twenty-six works by this year’s featured composer, Kaija Saariaho. ... Many of Présences 2017’s newer works were by South American-born, France-based composers, and two such works featured here, each a world premiere: Telluris. Désert Rose by Alexandre Lunsqui – which in post-spectral fashion contrasted quick ascending/descending gestures and static harmonic washes – and Luis Naón’s Pajaro contra el borde de la noche, in which a cello is augmented by electronics and the members of the ensemble played harmonicas. ... The standout works on this programme were Lucas Fagin’s Psychedelic, a Pink Floyd-referencing piece of sonic weirdness featuring a standout turn from keyboardist Caroline Cren, and Philippe Hurel’s Localized Corrosion, a quartet for electric guitar (with many effects pedals), alto-saxophone, piano and percussion, in which brash riffing is contrasted with beautifully delirious monophonic forays, in which endless unison melodies suggest a more adventurous Frank Zappa. ... ...if we compare the situation to other artistic media, we hardly criticise, say, novelist John Banville for aiming his well-crafted work at a broad public, so it’s unclear why composers should be criticised for same. 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2016-17: Verdi’s La traviata – Sonya Yoncheva, Michael Fabiano, Thomas Hampson; conducted by Nicola Luisotti [Showing on Saturday March 11]
Wednesday, March 01, 2017 |  The Classical Source once again brings you a handy guide to all ten of the Metropolitan Opera productions included in this season’s international broadcast series... ... La traviata, one of the most popular of operas, was premiered at La Fenice in Venice in 1853 to a somewhat mixed reception. Based on the play La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas (the younger), itself an adaptation, the text Verdi set is by one of his regular librettists Francesco Maria Piave. ... The title role is sung by the exciting Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva. There need be no worries about her technical abilities and she possesses a rich and dark vocal palette. She’s a great actress too! Michael Fabiano should be terrific as the ardent yet headstrong Alfredo, and Thomas Hampson will reprise the upright Giorgio Germont. 
Rimsky and Ravel: Not such strange Bedfellows
Saturday, February 18, 2017 |  Ravel also heard music from Russia, including works of the giants of the time, Glinka and Tchaikovsky, as well as the “mighty five”, which included Rimsky-Korsakov. ... The Russian had already made a huge impression with his early work from 1868, based on yet another Arabian myth, the tale of Antar. ... In 1910, Ravel was working for the Ballets Russes in Paris, working on the score for Daphnis and Chloe under the ever-watchful eye of Diaghilev. At the same time, the composer was asked to write incidental music for a play, based on the Antar story. ... Not only was the music from the Symphonic Suite incorporated, there were also extracts from Mlada, two other songs by Rimsky and portions of Felicien David’s symphonic ode, Le Desert. To add to the mystique of the story, Mata Hari herself appeared in the dance scenes. 
PRINCIPIIS OBSTA – RESIST THE BEGINNINGS
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 |  Four men in my family were executed by the Nazis. Hans von Dohnanyi, my father, honored in Yad Vashem, was killed in the Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen shortly before the Second World War ended. At the same time the world-renowned theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, brother of my mother, my godfather, was executed in the concentration camp Flossenbürg. In 1930 Bonhoeffer began his studies in New York City at the Union Theological Seminary and learned to love and admire the United States of America. 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2016-17: Dvořák’s Rusalka – Kristine Opolais & Brandon Jovanovich; conducted by Mark Elder [Showing on Saturday February 25]
Sunday, February 05, 2017 |  Rusalka is by far the most popular and performed of Antonin Dvořák’s ten operas and understandably so. The story is ostensibly a fairytale, but it also touches on many themes important to the modern psyche – identity, compromise, relationships, even damage to nature and the environment. ... The prince appears to the sound of hunting horns. He has felt strangely drawn to the lake without knowing why. He sees Rusalka, falls in love, and carries her away to his castle. There Rusalka’s inability to communicate generates commentary from the staff as well as noble acquaintances. The prince begins to find Rusalka’s apparent coldness, owing to fear, wearisome – and feels she cares little for him. ... ‘Song to the Moon’ has been a perennial favourite. The Prince’s music requires a heady lyric-dramatic tenor – he has glorious music to sing. ... The cast assembled by Metropolitan Opera is impressive. Kristine Opolais, famous for her Puccini interpretations, takes on the title role. Her sense for the theatrical should bring a searing portrayal. The Prince is sung by Brandon Jovanovich... 
Metropolitan Opera Live HD Broadcasts 2016-17: Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette – Vittorio Grigolo & Diana Damrau; conducted by Gianandrea Noseda [Showing on Saturday January 21]
Thursday, January 12, 2017 |  Roméo et Juliette, whilst not as regularly staged as Charles Gounod’s most-popular opera Faust, is the other of his numerous stage-works that retains a toe-hold in the repertoire. ... It is one of many operas based on Shakespeare’s tale of doomed young love, and is perhaps the most faithful to the play’s full narrative. ... Romeo and Juliet are the adolescent offspring of two noble families in Verona, the Capulets and the Montagues, at enmity for generations. ... Gounod’s music is always tuneful and beautiful, and in many ways is representative of the best of French Romantic opera. ... The ill-fated lovers are sung by Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau... 

 

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