British romance novelist Ida Cook (1904-1986) wrote over a hundred books for Mills & Boon under the name Mary Burchell
, including the thirteen-book, opera-focused Warrender saga
. The passion she and her sister, Louise Cook, shared for opera carried them across oceans and countries in the years prior to the outbreak of WWII, and when Ida took account of her writing career's financial success, she was by struck by a "terrible, moving and overwhelming thought--I could save life with it." So beginning in 1937, she and Louise helped save dozens of lives by entering Germany disguised as themselves: eccentric opera fanatics. Louise Carpenter's "Ida and Louise"
looks into the lives of these two sisters, these "lives which swung dizzyingly between the purest fantasy and the utterly real." [more inside]
A blog about hunky baritones. That is all.
"The thing that really gets to me about the reviews is that all of them, almost grudgingly, admit that she sang the extraordinarily difficult role beautifully. And yet the bulk of their criticism is reserved for her body type." Irish Tara Erraught
, soprano star of this year's Glyndebourne festival, garnered almost universal contempt
from London's male critics. Guardian roundup
, including a mention of Alice Coote's open letter to critics
In a new production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice
(Orpheus and Eurydice) in Vienna, the part of Euridice is shared between the soprano Christiane Karg, who sings from the stage, and Karin Anna Giselbrecht, a young woman in a persistent vegetative state, who lies in a nearby hospital. "The music is played to her and video cameras relay her image to the stage."
[From the opera blog Intermezzo
.] [more inside]
The Nightingale and the Rose
is an 8 minute film-opera by composer Emily Hall
and filmmaker Gaelle Denis
, and performed by the amateur voices of Streetwise Opera
"And let it be set down, Bob was one of the most amazing composers of the 20th century, and the greatest genius of 20th-century opera.
I don’t know how long it’s going to take the world to recognize that. And it hardly matters. He knew it. That the world was too stupid to keep up was not his problem." Robert Ashley dies at 83
. [more inside]
"The cinema was made for horror movies. No other kind of film offers that same mysterious anticipation as you head into a dark auditorium. No other makes such powerful use of sound and image. The cinema is where we come to share a collective dream and horror films are the most dreamlike of all, perhaps because they engage with our nightmares.
" And so Mark Gatiss
opens his three-part series, A History of Horror
. "One of the great virtues of this series is that it is thoroughly subjective. Gatiss does not feel any particular obligation to give us an A to Z of horror, but instead lingers lovingly over his own favourites,
" taking the viewer with him from the Golden Age of Hollywood horror through the American horror movies of the 1960s and 1970s. [more inside]
World Concert Hall
publishes a schedule
, seven days out, of live classical concerts and operas scheduled for streaming broadcast on the web.
Nike Wagner, the composer's great-granddaughter, puts the question that this raises in these terms: "Should we allow ourselves to listen to his works with pleasure, even though we know that he was an anti-Semite?" There's a bigger issue behind this question: Can Germans enjoy any part of their history in a carefree way?
is an artist who has made reconstructions of extinct creatures' vocal tracts
, extrapolating from extant species and fossil remains. The Extinction Orchestra
. [more inside]
: How a paranoid fringe group made musical tuning an international issue.
The petition had its origins in one of the strangest conflicts to have overtaken classical music in the past thirty years, and many of these luminaries were completely unaware of what they’d gotten themselves into. The sponsor of both the petition and the conference that featured Tebaldi was an organization called the Schiller Institute, dedicated to, among other things, lowering standard musical pitch. ...
But behind this respectable front lurks a strange mélange of conspiracy, demagoguery, and cultish behavior. At its founding in 1984, its chairman Helga Zepp-LaRouche laid out the Institute’s role in surprisingly apocalyptic terms
Originally published at The Believer
The end of
, the beginning of Blink...
The Evolution of the Web, in a Blink
SHROOM TRIP ARIA Italiano
[6m48s] is a music video of a section of Joseph Keckler's one-man show I Am An Opera
. [more inside]
Shortly thereafter, one of the nuns died. La Maupin disinterred the body of the deceased nun and, placing it in the bed of her beloved, set the room afire so that the two could flee in the ensuing confusion. Julie d’Aubigny a.k.a. La Maupin or Mademoiselle Maupin
was a 17th century fencer and opera singer of the Paris Opera. In detail
. [more inside]
-- HTML5 permits websites to store considerable data on your local disk. It was originally expected that the browsers would impose a ceiling on this, but IE, Opera, Safari, and Chrome do not. A properly coded HTML5 site can completely fill your hard drive. [more inside]
You know the blue alien lady that sings that crazy techno opera song in The Fifth Element? Said to be humanly impossible, Laura sings it without any digital enhancements.
The original singer's voice is sung by Albanian soprano Inva Mula.
"Disney goes to Anaheim late at night to help repair the animatronic Disneyland Lincoln, which has been malfunctioning and attacking members of the audience. Disney gets in an argument with the robot about blacks, and Lincoln goes crazy again and whacks Walt...." (source
). Starting today at 2 PM Eastern time (just under 3 hours from now) and for the next 90 days, medici.tv will stream, free of charge,
Teatro Real's January 22 premiere performance of the new Philip Glass opera The Perfect American
. It's based on the novel
of the same name by Peter Stephan Jungk, which the NY Times called "a surreal, meditative, episodic account of the last days of Walt Disney." Four minute preview video. ENO rehearsal trailer
. (Happy belated 76th, Mr. Glass.) [more inside]
For those who like a little WTF?
with their opera. [NSFW]
. Of course, there's a Making Of
video. Also NSFW
, and in German.
was an art movie/promotional stunt put out by Virgin Media in 1987 with famous directors providing a music-video take on various opera pieces. ( A full review by That Opera Chick
). Of particular note is Julien Temple
's (Of Earth Girls Are Easy
fame) adaptation of Verdi's Rigoletto as a zany, cartoonish, ecstasy-fueled and very 80s farce set at the infamous Madonna Inn. Watch the whole delirious sequence here.
GlamourFilter: Opening Night at La Scala.
Pictures from La Scala
's opening nights, dating through the fifties and sixties. (Main story here
, slideshow here
, those links in Italian, but easy enough to figure out for non-speakers.) Pictures of Callas, Toscanini, Princess Grace, Dick and Liz, and many more, all looking impossibly fab and glamourous. (Via
the always informative and entertaining Opera Chic
225 years ago today, in the Teatro di Praga
, there premiered a new opera - conducted by the 31 year old composer, who was in demand after his success in Vienna the year before. Although he had completed the overture
less than 24 hours earlier, the opera was an instant smash - with the composer being "welcomed joyously and jubilantly by the numerous gathering". In the years to come, Kierkegaard would agree with the French composer Charles Gounod that the opera was "a work without blemish, of uninterrupted perfection". Flaubert would call it one of "the three finest things God made". Today, it is the 10th most performed opera in the world. It is Mozart's Don Giovanni (spoiler)
. [more inside]
Flipping through public access or PBS channels one might have seen Classic Arts Showcase
with it's familiar ARTS bug
. The 24-hour non-commercial free-to-air satellite channel
broadcasts a repeated 8-hour mix of about 150 video clips weekly
a mix of various classic arts including animation, architectural art, ballet, chamber, choral music, dance, folk art, museum art, musical theater, opera, orchestral, recital, solo instrumental, solo vocal, and theatrical play, as well as classic film and archival documentaries. The channel has no VJs and only silent interstitials
encouraging the viewer to “...go out and feast from the buffet of arts available in your community.” [more inside]
Next week, for the first time in 22 years, PBS will televise
the four dramas of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle
on consecutive nights - a rare opportunity to encounter in the manner intended "the most ambitious and most profound work of art ever created
". [more inside]
The 101st Bayreuth Festival
with a new staging of Richard Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman
. The celebrity audience including German Chancellor Angela Merkel
were overshadowed by the sudden departure from the cast of its leading baritone, Evgeny Nikitin
, who withdrew from the company four days ago after a German TV program
showed film clips of the Russian singer sporting what appeared to be a swastika tattoo
. [more inside]
, a new opera by German composer Detlev Glanert
, to a libretto by Reinhard Palm based on the novel (previously)
by Stanislaw Lem (previously)
, has its world premiere today at the Festspielhaus, Bregenz. [More inside] [more inside]
Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has died (NYTimes).
“Providence gives to some singers a beautiful voice, to some musical artistry, to some (let us face it) neither, but to Fischer-Dieskau Providence has given both. The result is a miracle and that is just about all there is to be said about it.” (John Amis) [more inside]
Guide to buying a top hat
- Charles Henry Wolfenbloode gives advice on buying a topper.
The Swedish Chef (Muppet Wiki)
is the incomprehensible preparer of foodstuffs for The Muppet Show. A rather literal variation of the Live-Hand Muppet concept, the Swedish Chef is a humanoid character, with human hands rather than gloves. An annotated list of every televised appearance of the Swedish Chef is after the fold... Børk! Børk! Børk! [Click here to view the thread translated fully into Mock Swedish] [more inside]
Today the Icarus Experiment
released their measurement on the speed of neutrinos
from CERN. Within small errors, they find them to be traveling at the speed of light, in accordance with the theory of relativity. [more inside]
Whilst searching for more images of La Milo (mentioned in this post
), I stumbled across the David Elliot theatrical postcard collection
. In it were some pictures of Blanche Arral
. [more inside]
Andy Ihnatko writes a charmingly enthusiastic post about listening to the same aria, from the same production, sung in two very different ways: by the star, and by the understudy: Rachele Gilmore’s 100 MPH Fastball [more inside]
Although many fine divas stamped their mark on early recording, it was the tenor voice of Caruso which was the defining voice of the early twentieth century. His reputation was due to the fact that people could not only hear him in their own homes, but that his success could actually be measured in record sales; he was the first global superstar of the gramophone era.
Enrico Caruso was the first recording artist with a million-selling record
("Vesti la Giubba
," from Pagliacci
), and his recordings of 10 songs 'made the gramophone' in 1902
. He went on to make about commercial 490 recordings, and there is even more unreleased material
. [more inside]
"everything is good that / has a good beginning / and doesn't have an end / the world will die but for us there is no / end!" Thus ends Victory over the Sun
, part 2
), the "first Futurist opera". [more inside]
𝑯𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝑸𝒖𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝓪, 𝓪 𝒇𝒓𝒆𝒆 𝑻𝒓𝒖𝒆𝑻𝒚𝒑𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝓪𝒕 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝓪𝒊𝒏𝒔 10,000 𝒄𝒉𝓪𝒓𝓪𝒄𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒔.
𝓘𝓯 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓱𝓪𝓿𝓮 𝓲𝓽 𝓲𝓷𝓼𝓽𝓪𝓵𝓵𝓮𝓭, 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓬𝓪𝓷 𝓻𝓮𝓪𝓭 𝓽𝓱𝓲𝓼 𝓶𝓮𝓼𝓼𝓪𝓰𝓮 (𝔲𝔫𝔩𝔢𝔰𝔰 𝔶𝔬𝔲'𝔯𝔢 𝔲𝔰𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝕮𝔥𝔯𝔬𝔪𝔢).
"Here is Quivira, a free TrueType font that contains 10,000 characters. If you have it installed, you can read this message (unless you're using Chrome)." [more inside]
The New Yorker
's music critic Alex Ross
was at Lincoln Center last night to hear a Mahler symphony -- until NYPD officers shooed him out of Josie Robertson Plaza
, a public space. The MacArthur Fellow
stayed behind to observe an Occupy Wall Street action
timed to coincide with the final performance of Philip Glass
at the Metropolitan Opera. The composer himself came out of the Met to join the action, reading via human microphone
from the libretto
of this opera about Mahatma Gandhi's activism
in South Africa. Both the moving speech and the spectacle of operagoers herded out of Lincoln Center by armed police are documented by Ross on his blog The Rest is Noise
Shakespeare was not a full-time writer without other responsibilities, like O’Neill or Williams. But what might look like a distraction for such authors—acting in his own and other people’s plays, coaching fellow players, helping manage the ownership of the troupe’s resources (including its two theaters, the Globe and Blackfriars)—was a strength for Shakespeare, since it made him a day-by-day observer of what the troupe could accomplish, actor by actor. [...]Shakespeare and Verdi in the Theater.
'According to Pacini,' Julian Budden writes in The Operas of Verdi, 'it was the custom at the San Carlo theatre, Naples, for the composer to turn the pages for the leading cello and double bass players on opening nights.' The composer had to change his score to fit new voices if there were substitutions caused by illness or some other accident. In subsequent performances, he was expected to take out or put in arias for the different houses, transposing keys, changing orchestration. He was not a man of the study but of the theater.
The French romantic thriller “Diva” dashes along with a pellmell gracefulness, and it doesn’t take long to see that the images and visual gags and homages all fit together and reverberate back and forth. It’s a glittering toy of a movie... This one is by a new director, Jean-Jacques Beineix... who understands the pleasures to be had from a picture that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Every shot seems designed to delight the audience.
- Pauline Kael, 1982 [more inside]
"Japanese Jazz Opera
" begins with "Now's The Time," by Charlie Parker. An old peasant couple sings along with the standard, in Japanese. [more inside]
In 1900, Lionel Mapleson
- librarian at the Metropolitan Opera - acquired a Bettini cylinder recorder
. Equipped with the machine and a giant recording horn
, Mapleson began to make covert recordings
of Met performances from the flies of the stage. Over the next few years, he made some of the earliest live recordings (and in some cases the only
recordings) of many of the most popular voices
of the late 19th and early 20th century. (Sometimes he also recorded his family
). [more inside]