Where I share my inspirations, new work announcements and whatever else I find interesting. To view my artwork or read any of my performance reviews please see the link to my homepage in the sidebar. Offended by occasional male nudity or awesome homoerotic art content? This is not the place for you.
As the Maestro prepares for a concert performance of Handel's Rodelinda in Melbourne next week with some of Australia's most exciting singers - Greta Bradman, Fiona Janes, John Longmuir, Liane Keegan, Lorina Gore and Michael Lewis with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, I will leave this small but beautiful musical birthday tribute for you to enjoy.
It's the War Chorus from Bellini's Norma. The reason I chose this was because of Bonynge's inclusion of some of the most quiet and haunting music from the entire opera, it features in the Overture and nowhere else except this often cut end to the Guerra! Guerra! chorus.
Here, in his later recording with Dame Joan she sings over the top of the final cadence to stunning effect. It's one of my favourite Bonynge moments.
Have a great week ahead, mine looks like it's shaping up to be rather excitingly busy.
...I know, and apologies, I'm currently working on a couple of exciting projects I'm sworn to secrecy about until later in the year and they are taking up much of my time. I'll release more about them later.
In the meantime I came across this wonderful painting of the final moments of Abbe Provost's novel Manon Lescaut, which was to inspire operas by Massenet, Auber and Puccini. I read it years ago and can see why it was so inspirational, a story just dying to be set to music.
It will come as no surprise that Puccini's heroine is my favourite. Act 4 is one long tragic and stunning farewell/love duet, heartbreaking in it's intensity. Have a listen to Maria Callas and Giuseppe di Stefano conducted by Tulio Serafin. This recording will forever be a classic, enjoy.
For more information about the painting head here. Have a great weekend.
This week the operatic world is in remembrance of the great Maria Callas, who passed away on September 16, 1977. She has been a major part of my musical life for over 30 years and continues to inspire even now.
We are so lucky to have her vast recorded legacy to draw from and Warner Classics is about to release the complete Callas back catalogue in remastered form, using the original covers. It's been exciting watching this unfold and I'd be interested to hear the final releases as apparently there have been many extraneous noises removed and things generally tidied up for modern digital listening.
I have to admit that with all the different remasterings over the years I'm more looking forward to the original artwork being available in digital format officially for the the first time, especially some of the recital discs with their technicolor portraits.
Having said that, on first listen to the iTunes download of this particular release, the quality is astounding, especially the stereo balance. La Divina is captured in very fine voice and these are a very worthy addition to the live recordings of Anna Bolena and Il Pirata currently officially available.
Until it's available on Spotify (you can now purchase it on iTunes) or order it directly from Warner, you may want to make do with the unnofficial remastering below. While nowhere near as good as the new Warner, it's still 19 minutes of Callas intensity worthy of a listen.
The first time I heard Jessye Norman was when I was about 14 and had just purchased an LP of Ravel's song cycles recorded by Pierre Boulez for CBS. She was singing the Chansons madecasses, it is still one of my favourites and I still have the LP.
I'd like to pay tribute today for her birthday with another of her Ravel recordings, this time from his dreamy Sheherazade - the first movement - Asie.
For all of her operatic recordings and there have been many terrific performances, Sieglinde x 2, Dido, Jokasta, Carmen, Salome to name only a few, I find Jessye Norman most at home in the genre of song. Ravel in particular. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Italian Set Designer Carlo Ferrario is the subject of today's Image of the Day. He was quite popular during the 19th Century and is renowned for his large output of Romantic operatic vistas and Classical Ruins.
Here is one of his designs for Verdi's La Forza del Destino. A perfect example of set design during the late Romantic Period and of Grand Opera in Europe at the time. He was born on this day in 1833.
I've chosen this particular recording below to illustrate aurally the image above because it was the first one I ever heard of this duet and will forever be my favourite, though I have heard many others that deservedly vie for that title.
The sunshine in Di Stefano's voice is undeniable here and he blends perfectly with the great Leonard Warren's velvety baritone. Let this sunshine into an otherwise dark Monday and have a great week.
Love her or not, Angela Gheorghiu has certainly maintained herself as one of the great drawcards of modern operagoing. She is the epitome of the modern Opera Diva due initially to EMI marketing her as the obvious successor to Maria Callas in their catalogue.
I have to admit to initially being somewhat cautious in my approach to Gheorghiu. Alarm bells are instantly set off in my head when someone is compared to Callas in their press releases, especially at such an early age as Gheorghiu was. She has shown herself to be a strong and individual Artist in her own right, no mere imitator and now I absolutely adore her.
Despite the hype, there is something utterly engaging about her that I find completely captivating. She may not have the biggest voice out there, may not take as many vocal risks as her predecessors, but she does possess a vocal glamour and a certain breathy quality to her soprano that is highly appealing. Her dark vocal colour and superb breathe control elevate her to a level worthy of the acclaim and her recordings are certain to be considered as classics of our time, and justifiably so.
I'm very happy that she has established herself in the roles of the Verismo greats, such as Fedora, Adriana Lecourveur and Tosca. I'm simply dying for her Francesca da Rimini, should she ever record it. These roles are perfect for her Fach, and ultimately perfect for her personality, which shines through her performances.
Today the Diva celebrates her 49th birthday. To me she is an inspiration whose talent deserves to be celebrated and adored. Angela Gheorghiu - I wish you the happiest of birthdays.
...Paper Theatre. Actually it's not really a new fascination, it dates back to when I made my first Diorama when I was about 7. It was of Pompeii with Versuvius exploding in the background. It could actually be seen as my first foray into set design, a premonition of sorts. But anyway.
Recently though my Facebook contacts and ever increasing network of opera singers, artists and enthusiasts, particularly those who share my love of Wagner, I discovered this wonderful page dedicated to building Model Theatres with the intent of using them for performance - Multum in Parvo paper theater.
And indeed they are used for that very thing through Europe, it seems the enduring popularity of puppetry has never diminished. Have a look at their website...you'll learn a lot more about the artform, find out about upcoming performances and even find some freebies!
As the world continues to commemorate the 150 anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss, this weekend must surely be among the jewels in the crown of celebrations - numbers 58 and 59 of the 2014 BBC Proms.
Number 58 is of course Salome, with Nina Stemme in the title role, Samuel Youn as Jokhanaan, Burkhard Ulrich as Herod, Doris Soffel as Herodias and the Deutsche Oper Berlin conducted by Donald Runnicles.
You can listen the the broadcast courtesy of BBC3 by clicking this link. Perfect listening for a Sunday afternoon, Runnicles' direction is exquisite.