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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

T’was the night before New Years - a guest post by GPP

Newly revised and once again, with my sincerest apologies to the ghost of
Clement Clarke Moore!

T’was the night before New Years and all through the Met
Idle chatter expanded to grand tête-à-têtes
The stockings were held up from garters with care,
As freshly smoothed legs stung from shaving, (or Nair).
The lovely and well heeled strode carpets of red,
While visions of Milanov danced in some heads.
Some told of nights’ past and of old opera glories,
(While others preferred much more risquéier stories. )

Then the chandeliers rose and one heard so much clatter,
As the shushrats were shushing all pre-curtain chatter.
Then a diva so glam’rous (it must be Renee!)
Looked perplexed at her program, “What the . . . ‘Rondine?’”
But before she could exit, the house lights were dimmed
And La Gheorghiu appeared, flapper skirt, hat wide-brimmed.
“Chi il bel sogno di Doretta,” the piano started,
Then a crude blast was heard, oh God, someone has . . . .
Whispered one: “That’s appropriate I can’t stand Puccini,”
Snapped his partner, “Oh, it’s lovely, quit being so queeny!”

Memories of other nights, we begin to remember
How opera’s the best way to end a December,
So give us cadenzas, and bel canto trills,
And tonic and dominant and all else that thrills.

Give us Handel, and Strauss, Debussy and Bellini
Give us nights that’ll thrill ev’n Signor Tommassini.
And bring on the rare stuff, Mercadante and others
And broadcast ‘em all while we’ve still got Toll Brothers!

Yes, those operas by Mozart, Wagner, Donizetti
We love them mit Schnitzel or con la spaghetti
Yet hours of parlando and leitmotifs galore,
Will, no matter how beautiful, cause someone to snore.

Just make sure that our Butterfly dies by the blade,
And not from a gunshot wound fired by her maid,
And make sure that a gentle soul, like Violetta
Won’t be required to lap dance, through her difficult stretta . . .
Don’t let Salome die as she hangs from a rope
As staged by some hack, wacked out, weird regie dope.

For ‘tis opera we love, and ev’n though we may fight,
Or poke fun at others who don’t see the light,
I ask you to please raise your champagne (or beer)
And join me in toasting a new Opera-L Year!

Happy New Year, Everybody!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Phoenix Opera building its own sets

Does the Phoenix Opera read OGR?

I am beginning to wonder, after seeing this article from the Phoenix Business Journal

A short article, with a particularly trenchant quote:
"After the “Aida” performances Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 at the Orpheum Theatre, the sets likely will be sent to Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, N.Y., where they will be rented out to other companies, Castellano said."

Hmm...who does that sound like?

An amazing concept - save money, and create an additional income stream.

OG shakes her head in disbelief

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays one and all

Thanks for sticking around in 2008! See you in 2009.
Be safe, be careful, and hug everyone you love, unless they have the flu, then wave from a distance. ;)
I would say more, but Jussi says it the best -

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Roberto Alagna receives Legion D'Honneur

Yesterday Roberto Alagna received the Légion d'honneur order from the French President Sarkozy.

A few days before, he received a much higher honor from the French...his image is now in the Museum Grevin, the famous wax museum, among the immortals.

OG wants to know...isn't this the same award they gave to Jerry Lewis? ;)

OG recommends the following recording:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Opera is not immune to the recession

Warning: rant ahead!

After last month's announcement that our own Michigan Opera Theater had to cancel productions, we now have the announcement regarding the Baltimore Opera:,0,685458.story

I have been associated with both of these companies, and have a great amount of respect for both Dr. D and Michael Harrison.

Personally, I am not a huge supporter of the unions, and I feel that the highly inflated salaries of both unions and the excessive spending in the non-union areas contribute to this issue.

As a former designer, I used to be appalled at my colleagues who would spend thousands upon tens of thousands on fancy fabrics, real antiques and other items to decorate singers and stage.

When I was in Chicago, I was a union stagehand for a few months. It just seemed ODD to be paid to not work. It seemed odd to have our lunches and dinners catered in. It went against everything I had experienced to date, and I never liked it.

Another instance was the production where an audio engineer had a paid assistant, IMHO, far too much like "I'm getting my girlfriend a paid gig" than an actual assistant, especially since she just sat around doing nothing while I as producer had to pay her a salary. I am perfectly happy to pay a salary if someone actually works, and these companies should really start looking at their structure.

I am not suggesting layoffs - not at all. I spent 16 years in this industry, and am far too familiar with the "its not my job" attitude of union employees. The industry should revert back to model where everyone does what is needed to bring a production together - none of this "we have to wait until this person shows up so we can move this stack of cable, wood, boxes to that point over there."

Pick up the f-ing box and move it, ok?

I always enjoyed my work, and I made a comfortable living while NON-union. I have never been able to reconcile myself to the excessive spending, and the fact that I was once sacked from a design job for NOT spending enough.

That company probably wishes they had someone like me around now, and no it wasn't either of the 2 listed above.

Personally I think opera companies need to re-think their approach to spending, and keep in mind that what they essentially do is create a "simulation", not a reality...

I doubt highly that someone is going to storm out after buying their ticket and complain that the costume fabric should have cost another $100/yard.

And how about giving Americans jobs? Yes, I *know* that opera is an international industry, but the truth is that American companies, once they get to a certain threshold, are perfectly happy to start hiring singers/designers/conductors from outside of the US.

Sure, the reverse is true, but we all know that the balance tips far too much to one side. Offering a few comprimario roles to Americans doesn't cut it.

And the argument that the audience deserves big box office stars? Sure they do, and that is why we have the Met.

Because I love this industry more than anything else, it saddens me greatly to know that these types of cutbacks are happening.

Thoughts, comments, brickbats?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Life is NOT the same after Tristan und Isolde

You've got that right, maestro.

Hats off to Maestro Barenboim and the cast of today's Met broadcast - one that I think will be for the record books.

To date, I have not been a "Wagnerite", actually far from it, and it took the skills (and what skills they are!!!) of having Daniel Barenboim at the helm of the Met orchestra to convince me to not only LIKE this opera but move it tout suite into my top ten.

Not to dismiss the work of Maestro Levine, who is no sluch on the podium, but but but...

See? I'm speechless.
Aw hell, I was trying not to CRY during the overture.


Internet radio and bandwidth costs

No, it won't be one of *those* posts - the kind where we beg for $$ due to bandwidth issues.
(but hey...if you want to help...)

Recently I engaged in a rather spirited discussion on a newsgroup with a woman who thought it was perfectly OK to record Internet radio for later use, and didn't seem to think she was doing anything wrong when I pointed out the following:

1 - at the very least, the act of recording Internet radio is stealing bandwidth, which is mighty expensive when you stream live, as I do on

2 - radio content is often under copyright - which means this is no less wrong than borrowing a CD, making a copy, and then making multiple copies for others.

Some tips from 3 years in the trenches:
If you run a Shoutcast station, please check your DNAS logs for bandwidth hogs. Sure, its great to have lots of listeners, but if you have people who leave it on for days on end, kick them off. Make them come bakc and VISIT your site once in a while.

If you see 2-3 IP addresses that match in a row, thats usually a content scraper.

And above all, listen to your own station once in a while, and make sure its top-notch.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

2008 Classical Grammy Award Nominees - lots of vocal treats


Cecilia Bartoli; Adam Fischer; Orchestra La Scintilla [Decca Records]

O'Regan, Tarik: Threshold Of Night.
Craig Hella Johnson, conductor; Company Of Strings; Company Of Voices & Conspirare [Harmonia Mundi]

Schoenberg/Sibelius: Violin Concertos.
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Hilary Hahn; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra [Deutsche Grammophon]

Spotless Rose: Hymns To The Virgin Mary
Charles Bruffy, conductor; Phoenix Chorale; [Chandos]

Weill: Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny.
James Conlon, conductor; Anthony Dean Griffey, Patti LuPone & Audra McDonald; Donnie Ray Albert, John Easterlin, Steven Humes, Mel Ulrich & Robert Wörle; Los Angeles Opera Chorus; Los Angeles Opera Orchestra [EuroArts]

D'Indy: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1.
Rumon Gamba, conductor (Iceland Symphony Orchestra) [Chandos]

Glazunov: Symphony No. 6, La Mer, Introduction And Dance From Salome
José Serebrier, conductor (Royal Scottish National Orchestra) [Warner Classics & Jazz]

Prokofiev: Scythian Suite, Op. 20
Alan Gilbert, conductor (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) [CSO Resound]

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4
Bernard Haitink, conductor (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) [CSO Resound]

Walden, Chris: Symphony No. 1, The Four Elements
Chris Walden, conductor (Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra) [Origin Classical]

Dun: The First Emperor
Tan Dun, conductor; Michelle DeYoung, Plácido Domingo, Elizabeth Futral, Paul Groves, Wu Hsing-Kuo & Hao Jiang Tian; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus) [EMI Classics]

Lully: Psyché
Paul O´Dette & Stephen Stubbs, conductors; Colin Balzer, Karina Gauvin, Carolyn Sampson & Aaron Sheehan; Renate Wolter-Seevers, producer (Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra; Boston Early Music Festival Chorus) [CPO]

Monteverdi: L'Orfeo
Rinaldo Alessandrini, conductor; Sara Mingardo, Monica Piccinini, Anna Simboli & Furio Zanasi; Jean-Pierre Loisil, producer (Concerto Italiano) [Naive Classique]

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
Valery Gergiev, conductor; Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky & Ramón Vargas; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus) [Decca]

Weill: Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny
James Conlon, conductor; Anthony Dean Griffey, Patti LuPone & Audra McDonald; Fred Vogler, producer (Donnie Ray Albert, John Easterlin, Steven Humes, Mel Ulrich & Robert Wörle; Los Angeles Opera Orchestra; Los Angeles Opera Chorus) [EuroArts]

O'Regan, Tarik: Threshold Of Night
Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (Company Of Strings; Company Of Voices & Conspirare) [Harmonia Mundi]

Rheinberger: Sacred Choral Works
Charles Bruffy, conductor (Kansas City Chorale & Phoenix Bach Choir) [Chandos]

Symphony Of Psalms
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor; Simon Halsey, chorus master (Berliner Philharmoniker; Rundfunkchor Berlin) [EMI Classics]

Szymanowski, Karol: Stabat Mater
Antoni Wit, conductor; Henryk Wojnarowski, chorus master (Jaroslaw Brek, Iwona Hossa & Ewa Marciniec; Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra; Warsaw Philharmonic Choir) [Naxos]

Tippett: A Child Of Our Time
Colin Davis, conductor; Joseph Cullen, chorus master (Steve Davislim, Mihoko Fujimura, Matthew Rose & Indra Thomas; London Symphony Orchestra; London Symphony Chorus) [LSO Live]

Bloch/Lees:Violin Concertos
John McLaughlin Williams, conductor; Elmar Oliveira (National Symphony Orchestra Of Ukraine) [Artek]

Harrison: Pipa Concerto
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor; Wu Man (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) [CSO Resound]

Mozart: Piano Concertos 17 & 20
Leif Ove Andsnes (Norwegian Chamber Orchestra) [EMI Classics]

Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos 2 & 5
Charles Dutoit, conductor; Jean-Yves Thibaudet (L'Orchestre De La Suisse Romande) [Decca Records]

Schoenberg/Sibelius: Violin Concertos
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Hilary Hahn (Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra) [Deutsche Grammophon]

In A State Of Jazz
Marc-André Hamelin [Hyperion]

Piano Music Of Salonen, Stucky, And Lutoslawski
Gloria Cheng [Telarc]

Red Cliff Capriccio
Wei Li [First Impression Music]

Cameron Carpenter [Telarc]

Strange Toys
Joan Jeanrenaud [Talking House Records]

Brahms: String Quartet Op. 51, No. 2, Piano Quintet Op. 34
Stephen Hough; Takács Quartet [Hyperion]

Carter, Elliott: String Quartets Nos. 1 And 5
Pacifica Quartet [Naxos]

Folk Songs
Trio Mediaeval [ECM New Series]

Right Through The Bone - Julius Röntgen Chamber Music
ARC Ensemble [RCA Red Seal]

String Poetic
Jennifer Koh & Reiko Uchida [Cedille Records]

Øyvind Gimse, conductor; TrondheimSolistene [2L (Lindberg Lyd)]

Dun: Pipa Concerto; Hayashi: Viola Concerto; Takemitsu: Nostalgia
Roman Balashov, conductor; Yuri Bashmet; Moscow Soloists (Wu Man) [Onyx Classics]

Im Wunderschoenen Monat Mai
Reinbert De Leeuw, conductor; Barbara Sukowa; Schoenberg Ensemble [Winter & Winter]

Monk: Impermanence
Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble [ECM New Series]

Spotless Rose: Hymns To The Virgin Mary
Charles Bruffy, conductor; Phoenix Chorale [Chandos]

Corigliano: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems Of Bob Dylan
Hila Plitmann (JoAnn Falletta; Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra) [Naxos]

Fussell, Charles: Wilde
Sanford Sylvan (Gil Rose; Boston Modern Orchestra Project) [BMOP/sound]

Gomidas Songs
Isabel Bayrakdarian (Eduard Topchjan; Serouj Kradjian; Chamber Players Of The Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra) [Nonesuch Records]

Cecilia Bartoli (Adam Fischer; Orchestra La Scintilla) [Decca Records]

Terezín: Theresienstadt
Anne Sofie Von Otter (Christian Gerhaher & Daniel Hope; Bengt Forsberg & Gerold Huber) [Deutsche Grammophon]

Dalbavie: Concerto Pour Flûte
Marc-André Dalbavie (Peter Eötvös) [EMI Classics]

Gandolfi: The Garden Of Cosmic Speculation
Michael Gandolfi (Robert Spano) [Telarc]

Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems Of Bob Dylan
John Corigliano (JoAnn Falletta)

Violin Concerto No. 2
George Tsontakis (Douglas Boyd) [Koch Int'l Clasiscs]

Walden, Chris: Symphony No. 1, The Four Elements
Chris Walden (Chris Walden) [Origin Classical]

Gabriela Montero [EMI Classics]

Indigo Road
Ronn McFarlane [Dorian Sono Luminus]

Olde School
East Village Opera Company [Decca Records]

The Othello Syndrome
Uri Caine Ensemble [Winter & Winter]

Simple Gifts
The King's Singers [Signum Records]

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Loyal Listener Enables Upgrade

A *VERY* loyal listener in upstate New Yawk (HI Jane!) has sent a small gift that is allowing Classical Music Broadcast to:

- upgrade the memory in the computer that plays the music
- pay part of the electric bill for October.

Thanks to EVERYONE out there for your love and support!
Keep listening!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Toilet Humor

A lady who gets a special toilet that plays music to impress her fellow bridge club members. The first two to use it comment on the lovely musical selections--one heard a symphony and the other an opera--but the third remarks that it played the national anthem, so she had to stand up while using the facilities!

Apparently its not a joke in the UK