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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Maria Callas (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977)


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.

To read an excellent tribute to La Divina head to Limelight Magazine.



www.blairparkinson.com

#MariaCallas #LaDivina #MadScene #Opera #WarnerClassics

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jessye Norman


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.



www.blairparkinson.com


Monday, September 8, 2014

Image of the Day


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.



www.blairparkinson.com

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Angela Gheorghiu


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.

               

For my review of her recording for Deutsche Grammaphon of Giordano's Fedora click here.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Flashback Friday...


...back to my sister's wedding day back in 2010.  This was my official portrait of the Bride.  Happy birthday for today dear sister, may we share many, many more.  xxx




www.blairparkinson.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A current fascination of mine is...


...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!



www.blairparkinson.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Salome...Prom No.58


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.

Number 59 I'll talk about soon.

www.blairparkinson.com

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Regina Resnik


I'm going to pay tribute to the great Regina Resnik today. on the occasion of her birthday, not with an aria but with what is to me one her greatest achievements - Klytemnaestra's hysterical exit from Richard Strauss' Elektra.


No-one else on disc quite manages this scene quite like La Resnik and as a teenager I was captivated by her portrayal and still am.  It's from a bygone age unfortunately and one I like to revisit often.

By the way, over the years I've done quite a few paintings based on Strauss' incredible opera and now there is a gallery devoted entirely to them, check it out.  


Of course, there was a time when Regina Resnik was singing soprano roles, and to great acclaim.  Here we have Act 1 of Die Walkure from Bayreuth in 1953, Resnik was Sieglinde, Ramon Vinay was Siegmund and Josef Greindl was Hunding, Clemens Krauss conducting.  She makes a wondrous Sieglinde, the favourite in my current collection.  Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday night sounds like...


...David Hansen singing THIS!

AND did I mention that I've made some improvements to my website?  Well have a look at the new Music Review page and enjoy the rest of your week.



www.blairparkinson.com

Saturday, August 23, 2014

And again with Debussy...


... in my opinion his music for Le Martyre de Saint Sebastiane is vastly underrated.  It contains some of the most mystical, ethereal music written by the composer combined with a half-veiled eroticism which is highly captivating.

               

In it's shorter form rather than the original 4 hour version, the use of a narrator as the Saint paints an rather homo-erotic and sado-masochistic picture of Sebastiane's suffering at the hands of his beloved archers.

Don't let that scare you though, it's charged with a mysticism hard to resist.