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Monday, August 17, 2009

Anonymous - the untold story

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nora the Piano Cat in her very own concerto

Ed Note: its actually some good music!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Michael Jackson planned album of classical music

I wasn't even going to comment on the whole MJ thing, and have to admit as a child of the 80's "Off The Wall" & "Thriller" were 2 huge favorites for me...

and then I saw this:

Michael Jackson had several classical music compositions in the works, according to composer David Michael Frank, including one that existed only in his head.

I will update this as more information becomes available.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who Knew?

who knew that Brian Eno composed the Microsoft Windows 95 theme?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Exciting news to come soon

OperaGal Radio will have some really exciting news soon!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Opera + folk music equals and enjoyable concert moment

I for one would be perfectly happy to see more of this. If you are the ensemble, OG would love to hear from you!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Carreras retires

UPDATE: the original news release apparently misquoted Carreras, and he is NOT retiring. Yippee!!
I am what is considered a "younger" opera-goer. I didn't grow up listening to the Golden Age singers (I discovered them later) my era was when opera started to crossover - when Carreras sang West Side Story, when Domingo sang with John Denver (yes, it pains me to type that) when the Pav did duets with Bono, Sting and the Eurhythmics.

It wasn't always a pretty time, or even pretty music, but it was a time of exploration for the genre, one that we should all be grateful for.
Sure, it ended up spawning things like Charlotte Church and Katherine Jenkins, but it also gave our favorite format new legs, and new audiences.

No one can argue with the fact that the Three Tenors series of concerts did much to inject a new energy into a format that was mummifying. To take opera and put it in ballparks and football arenas. To take it out of context but still use good technique - to show a new group of listeners that you don't have to be afraid of opera. Carreras was part of all that, and for that, I thank him.

Carreras, in somewhat of a stretch, is sort of "our" Lance Armstrong, and from earlier in our medical abilities, when a diagnosis of cancer often meant the complete end of a career. (Just think about what strides medical technology has made in the last 10 years) He not only fought through it, but was able to come back to the stage - his Salzburg recital from 2005 is a good example of his later career singing.

So now the Pav is gone, Domingo sings transposed, and Carreras has hung up his vocal cords, in a manner of speaking.

I am saddened, but also happy that he gave us what he could while he could.

Which singers on the horizon will lead this art form forward?
Discuss amongst yourselves.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lincoln Memorial tribute to Marian Anderson

WASHINGTON – Marian Anderson couldn't sing at Constitution Hall or even a local high school because of the color of her skin. So the opera singer performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in April 1939 and sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee."

Unlike other events then, the 75,000-person crowd that had gathered to hear the African-American woman sing wasn't segregated. Blacks and whites stood together. Senators and Supreme Court justices also came on that Easter Sunday. The event came to symbolize the ideal of America's racial equality.

On Sunday afternoon, 70 years later, there will be another free concert at the Lincoln Memorial, this one designed to commemorate the 1939 landmark event. The Sunday concert will incorporate songs from Anderson's event and remember its significance during America's era of segregation.

The full article is HERE

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cellphones and Opera

don't say you weren't warned:

The Cairo Opera House in Egypt started the practice of confiscating cell
phones (without exception---they even took away that of the US ambassador on
one night) although naturally one or two manage to escape their sweep. A
case in point was a long-awaited concert by the visiting Berlin Philharmonic
Orchestra in 2001. In the middle of the adagio of the Bruckner symphony,
someone's cell phone went off with ascending rings. The owner, not wanting
to be identified, did nothing, and the rings got louder. 6 millitary police
then entered the hall with intense flashlights trying to zero in on the
offending culprit, reminding us of a scene out of Schindler's List.
Eventually the person was found, hand-cuffed (seriously!) and led from the
hall, all the while conductor continued uninterrupted. Later I asked a
friend who is a basso with the Cairo Opera what happened to the person with
the cell phone. He said he and his wife were taken to the police station
and no one knows what happened after that...........

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Manon tonight

Manon with Mattila, Croft, and Giordano on DVD this evening w/a glass of wine. Do not disturb.


NEW YORK, NY, March 25, 2009-Carnegie Hall today announced that soprano Soile Isokoski's recital with pianist Marita Viitasalo on Tuesday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Zankel Hall has been canceled. It is with regret that Ms. Isokoski has to cancel her performance, due to an illness in her family.

This concert will not be rescheduled. All ticketholders for this concert will have their tickets refunded. Those who purchased by phone or online will have their tickets automatically refunded. Those who purchased in person from the Carnegie Hall Box Office should return their tickets to the Box Office for refund. For questions regarding ticket refunds, the public may contact CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Think Denk

Now reading Think Denk, the blog of a concert pianist.

it's not um, what you think.

join me, and yes, it has been added to the blogroll...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baltimore Opera to Liquidate - RIP

Three months after seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and canceling the remainder of the 2008-09 season, the board of trustees of the Baltimore Opera Company voted yesterday to pursue Chapter 7 liquidation and dissolve the 58-year-old organization. The company will sell off its assets, including a warehouse, scenery, costumes and technical equipment, and distribute the proceeds among creditors.

I worked there in 1996 and 1997 - I am absolutely stunned.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A 3rd Year for "Classical Idol" Music Competition!

Annual José Iturbi International Music Competition at UCLA June 15-20 Offers Pianists and Singers More Than $250,000 in Prizes
Application Deadline Is April 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Third Annual José Iturbi International Music Competition, which awards the largest cash prizes (more than $250,000) of any classical piano and singing competition worldwide, will take place June 15 - 20 at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall in Los Angeles. Applications for pianists and singers to compete in the week-long competition that adds features of "American Idol" to the world of classical music may be completed and submitted online at April 15, 2009 is the application deadline.

The José Iturbi Foundation's competition is open to pianists and singers of any nationality who are 17 to 32 years old on June 1, 2009. Last year, there were applicants from 37 countries. Admission to the preliminary round of the competition will be limited to a maximum of 24 applicants in each category. 12 pianists and 12 singers will advance to the semi-final round and six singers and six pianists will compete in the final round. The competition's 10 world renowned judges will be announced shortly.

The schedule for the competition is as follows:

June 14 Registration and Orientation at The Beverly Hilton

June 15 and 16 Preliminary Rounds for 24 pianists and 24 singers
Semi-Finalists announced

June 17 and 18 Semi-Final Rounds for 12 pianists and 12 singers
Finalists announced

June 19 Final Round for 6 singers followed by Awards Ceremony

June 20 Final Round for 6 pianists followed by Awards Ceremony

The competition's $250,000 in cash prizes include first place prizes of $50,000 in each category. There will be two People's Choice prizes (one for a pianist and one for a singer) of $3,000 voted "live" by attendees of the final competition round.

Last year's First Place prize winners, Mariya Kim (from the Ukraine) and Angela Meade (USA), will present Cunard Command Performances(TM) aboard Queen Mary 2 during the April 26, 2009, Transatlantic Crossing from New York to Southampton, England. To make reservations on the April 26, 2009 Queen Mary 2 Crossing, contact your travel professional, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or go online to

"It's clear that there is a huge audience for outstanding classical music as evidenced by the overwhelming response to the first two José Iturbi International Music Competitions," said Donelle Dadigan, President of the José Iturbi Foundation. "The talent of last year's participants blew everyone away! Just call us 'Classical Idol.' Especially inspiring was the tremendous camaraderie among the participants that was evident throughout the week-long contest."

For rules and regulations on The José Iturbi International Music Competition 2009 or to submit an application, go to

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Radio and URI don't mix

Radio and an Upper Respiratory Infection do not mix.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I am not an impresario

My one loyal reader will be happy to note that I, Opera Gal extraordinaire, am not an impresario.

You may remember my YouTube Symphony post?
3. 3 of the people I liked made it into the Symphony.

But the way cool guy with the upright and the dog may get his Bosendorfer after all, since he was picked as the concert piano soloist.

I may know what I'm doing after all...hey DME, it you want to show up here in Michigan and teach me to play the Waldstein, that would be great.

Soory for the lack o' posting - between lots to do and a "cough due to cold"...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Placido Domingo wins $1M Nilsson Prize for opera

Placido Domingo wins $1M Nilsson Prize for opera

Spanish tenor Placido Domingo on Friday won the first $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize for his "unrivaled" contributions to the world of opera, the award foundation said.

The late Swedish soprano picked Domingo as the winner of the inaugural award — billed as the biggest prize in classical music — before her death in 2005. Prize officials said the name had been kept secret for nearly a decade.

Congrats Placido!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy, happy, joy, joy

So what do YOU do when you are happy?

What is that one thing that you turn to when you have to express joy and can't do it any other way?

I sing.
Yep, those tired old Italian songbooks come out and I warble along, knowing that the time to pursue an opera career passed me by (some one remind me of why I listened to my parents) but the training? It never *quite* leaves you, and lo and behold, notes show up that you forget could round so smoothly through the upper palate.

I will never sound like this, but it sure doesn't hurt to listen to it: Cecilia Bartoli brings to the music, facial expressions be damned.

YouTube Symphony - vote NOW!!!

I just spent a really wonderful hour+ listening to and voting for finalists for the YouTube Symphony.
Yes, this is an operatic list, so there were LOTS of excerpts from the Magic Flute, and one from Lucia (no glass harmonica, alas)
OK, I'm on topic.

I will re-post this on my blog and on the CMB website as well - I thought it was a great idea from the start, and would love to see it really grow legs.

Here is my list, and the criteria I used:

For the most part, I did NOT even listen to anyone who posted a concert appearance - I considered that "cheating" in my criteria, since it was supposed to be an audition, so I wanted as close to the audition process as possible. I have left comments by some of the more memorable performers.

One other note: I didn't realize that this was geared towards conservatory students - I haven't read the rules (but will do so tout suite) but I thought this was open to the world, so it was a Leeeeetle distressing to see all of these youngins auditioning. I had hoped for a few more "going gray" types like myself, who maybe played in a local orchestra/pit band and wanted a shot. Must reread the rules.

A special mention and kudos to: DoMaggioreEccedente (for playing on that poor upright - get this man a Bosendorfer, stat!

If you want to vote:

Now if "someone" would let a certain company I know personally broadcast the concert live on the Internet - hint,hint! ;) Anyone have MTT's phone number?

In order, who I listened to, although the site randomizes the videos once you start voting, so you may have to use search to find these folks.

gargoylejenkins - thanks for choosing that Bach
prelude!Good Energy
cyberforte - who played the Prelude better, IMHO
behold888 - what was with the whole anonymity thing? This wasn't a blind audition!
PavelBirukov - who was the only person who looked like he was actually enjoying himself! (ok, except for the whole breathing thing)
Hornmaker - the only auditionee who looked like he was a regular joe and not a conservatory student
capdenap - the bells in the background were SURREAL - loved it! Was he channeling Stokowski?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why I'm kicking you off my live stream

Today's post is directed to the IP addresses/domains that I have kicked off recently.
(read: today)

Spam bots? Gone.
I'm sure that you can find classical music sites in your own home countries of China, Turkey, Taiwan and so on...
Here's a link to get you started

Bandwidth leechers? Buh-bye

Oh, you know who you are. Sites, usually in Mandarin or Cyrillic, that contain an embedded media player that plays my site, leeching my bandwidth just so you can surround the page with piles of Google Ads.

CMB has a policy of allowing redistribution of content with written permission.
2 sites have written permission, and you aren't either of them.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

It's not butter, it's Mendelssohn

Wilhelm Furtwangler and his German manager, a man named Mendelssohn,
are walking in downtown Berlin. Furtwangler sees a record shop and
decides to go in and see how sales of his records are doing. His manager
goes with him.

He goes up to the young clerk and says, "Do you have Beethoven's 5th Symphony conducted by Furtwangler?

The clerk checks and says, "No, we have recordings by Bruno Walter and Toscanini, but
no Furtwangler."

So Furtwangler asks, "Well, do you have Beethoven's 7th symphony conducted by Furtwangler?"

The clerk checks again and says, "No, we have recordings with Knappertsbusch, Muck and Krauss,but no Furtwangler." This goes on for a while, with the 3rd, 4th and 6th symphonies, the Missa Solemnis, and Fidelio.

No Furtwangler.

Finally,Furtwangler says in exasperation, "Don't you have ANY Beethoven conducted
by Furtwangler?"

And the clerk, equally annoyed, says, "Who the hell is this Furtwangler anyway?

Furtwangler says indignantly, "I am Furtwangler!"

The clerk points to the manager and says, sarcastically "Oh, right, and
I suppose this is Beethoven."

Furtwangler says, "No, that's Mendelssohn."

Invest in an opera singer - the Marian Anderson I-bond

If you want the truth, I find the website sort of "spam-linky", meaning a site that exists to collect money by using Google ads and lots of spam subjects in order to, well make money.
But what they hey? It's still pretty entertaining, investing in an opera singer.
So if I buy stock in say, Cecilia Bartoli and she cancels a performance, does it get downgraded to an underperform?

Just askin'.

The Marian Anderson I-bond

Monday, February 2, 2009

and now...your moment of opera-l zen

I quote directly from a lister on opera-l, that lovable, albeit oftentimes maddening newsgroup of all things opera, which 80% of the time means "all Met, all the time":

"Only on this list could my post about opera here in London being
cancelled because of the snow metamorphose into yet another
discussion of Hitler. It's unbelievable."

Ed. Note: no, not really.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Connecticut Opera Cancels Season's Remaining Shows

Well, it is all over the Internet already so I'm not the first to break the news.
We are very sad to see that the Connecticut Opera has made the decision to cancel their season.

It is our hope that they will find a way to reverse this decision in the near future.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Missing piece of Mozart music debuts

A piece of music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which had lain undiscovered in a French library for years, has had its first public performance.

The two minute-long piece was played by violinist Daniel Cuiller before a small audience in Nantes, western France.

The sheet music was found by staff at the city's library, and authenticated as an original work of the Austrian composer last September.

The score is on display at Nantes Castle until 22 February.

Dr Ulrich Leisinger from the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, who authenticated the score, said it was an important discovery.

It is composed of two musical pieces with a missing portion at the top.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day of Firsts - political and musical

Today *is* a historic occasion, what with the swearing-in of the first African-American President of the United States, Barack Obama. Good luck to him on what has to be the toughest job ever.

In keeping with the news musical, let us go back to another historic first - the first African-American conductor of an orchestra - the Berlin Philharmonic, led by Rudolph Dunbar. In the 1940's - a significant event.

Thanks to An Overgrown Path for letting me trackback to his excellent article and photos.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

George Mott's opera photos - WOW

George Mott is a participant on the infamous opera-l newsgroup - I have been on there myself on and off since 1996.

Recently he posted links to his photos of the opera ERCOLE AMANTE in Amsterdam by Cavalli - and oh my god, is this singer really wearing injection-molded plastic?

Here is the full slideshow of the photos - George you do great work!

PS - for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, in the US these types of productions are known as Eurotrash.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Johnny Knoxville accuses "wardrobe girl" of bomb plant in luggage


Ok, back in the day, I used to be one of those "wardrobe girls" that Knoxville seems to think is a perfectly acceptable scapegoat.

Hello? The "wardrobe girl" packed your personal luggage, Johnny Knoxville?

You're not that famous you dumb f*ck.

You're no better than anyone else who had a few minutes of fame and is desperately trying to get it back by pulling outrageous stunts.

There is an old rule in the theater/performing arts/film world that there are 3 people you never piss off: the stage manager, the wardrobe person, or the lighting crew, otherwise you are guaranteed to go onstage/onset:

In the Dark.

Friday, January 16, 2009

LA Opera announces its new season

OperaGal is very happy to see the LA Opera 2009-2010 season contains not only the promised Ring cycle, but some solid recitals and TAMERLANE.

Placido is going to sing this year too! The man just does.not.stop. And we are eternally grateful. Thanks, PD

...OG sighs and wishes she had a trust fund to go to LA...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Busy this week


OperaGal will be busy this week, so very little operatic posting, or otherwise. (maybe)

I am making LOTS of these draft stopper thingies and if you are trying to save a few $$ on your heat bills, order one today.

Yesterday we went to the Press Preview for the NAIAS 2009 (thats North American Auto Show to you)

word one - the new Taurus? SWANKY. VERY SWANKY. Even sexy. (photos later today)

Operatic note: OG would appreciate it if the Met would stop scheduling their HD broadcasts on days with horrible weather, since the ONLY HD movie theater is one hell of a drive away.

Met folks - please check the Farmers Almanac before posting your schedule, as I would like to see just one Met production before I die.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Monsters* *and Prodigies: A History of the Castrati - sans cheval

Leave your scissors at home...


Thu, Feb 5-Sat, Feb 7, 8 pm

Novellus Theater at YBCA

700 Howard Street @ 3rd, San Francisco, CA

$30 Regular/$25 YBCA Member/Student/Senior/Teacher

415.978.ARTS (2787) or
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) presents Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes, one of Mexico's leading experimental theater groups, in its Bay Area debut. The company is slated to perform /Monsters* *and Prodigies: A History of the Castrati /which takes audiences on a delicious musical romp through operatic history, zooming in on the life of the castrati, a baroque cultural phenomenon symbolizing an unyielding search for beauty and purity in a society of decadence.

/"Monsters and Prodigies/ : /A History of the Castrati /is a remarkable mise-en-scène that unearths an unprecedented artistic, social and cultural phenomenon: the history of the castrated children born in poverty who were propelled to the status of stars in the courts of Europe.
Directed by Claudio Valdés Kuri and written by the late Jorge Kuri for Mexico City's internationally acclaimed Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes, /Monsters /is a colorful and often humorous three-century journey from the decadent extremes of the Baroque period to the technological 20th century, where beauty has been annihilated by reason [sic]. With a "precise and wild gaze," the company infuses life into one of the most sublime mysteries in history. Delivered with off-the-wall humor and terrific musical aplomb, the versatile artists of Teatro De Ciertos Habitantes play-out a chronological narrative of the contradictions, extravagances and whims of the castrati. Through the juxtaposition of artistic disciplines, routines and languages, /Monsters and Prodigies/ tells the tales of castrati who lived in defiance of moral and reasonable law, in their bodies and in their souls, in an impossible coupling of freak and angel, monster and wonder.

Performed in Spanish and Italian with English subtitles, the work begins with a reflection on the role of castrati - seen as both artistic prodigies and disfigured monsters - but soon launches into a musical tour of opera history peppered with increasing doses of screwball antics and highjinks. The cast of characters includes a hoof-stomping centaur, Siamese twins who run a surgery ward out of their Naples barbershop, a gossipy opera maven and, not least, Napoleon. The audience accompanies barber-surgeon Jean-Ambroise Paré through the splendors and extravagances of the Baroque era -- an outstanding and enigmatic period in art history. Through a play within a play and an opera within an opera, with a polyphonic structure that alternates scenes, musical arias and interludes, /Monsters and Prodigies/ culminates with the outbreak of war between beauty at the service of art against scientific thinking born in the French Revolution, ending with one of the most sublime mysteries of history: the incomparable voices of the castrati. There are several versions of the production and the one performed at YBCA will not include the horse.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Seattle Opera has announced its 2009-10 season

Seattle Opera has announced its 2009-10 season:

La Traviata (October 2009)
Violette: Nuccia Focile/Eglise Gutiérrez
Alfredo: Dimitri Pittas/Francesco Demuro
Germont: Charles Taylor /Weston Hurt
Conductor: Vjekoslav Sutej

Il Trovatore (January 2010)
Leonore: Lisa Daltirus/Mary Elizabeth Williams
Manrico: Antonello Palombi/Arnold Rawls
Azucena: Malgorzata Walewska/Mary Phillips
di Luna: Gordon Hawkins/Charles Taylor
Conductor: Yves Abel
Stage Director: José María Condemi

Falstaff (February/March 2010)
Falstaff: Peter Rose/Eduardo Chama
Dame Quickley: Stephanie Blythe (all performances)
Master Ford: Simone Alberghini/David Won
Mistress Ford: Sveta Vassileva/Sally Wolf
Conductor: Riccardo Frizza
Stage Director: Peter Kazaras

Sasha Cooke makes her company debut as Meg Page.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year - Opera and Wine, redux

Happy 2009, and how cool is it that my Christmas cactus decided to start blooming today. Yes, that's me with Tom in the photo in the background - yummy! he is having quite the year singing Anthanel right now in Thais.
(yes, its official - I am too lazy to type diacriticals - so sue me)

This year, 2x a month, I will feature "Opera & Wine" where I marry my 2 favorites. I will review a DVD performance AND the wine that accompanies the DVD viewing.


2 reasons - number one, I don't actually WATCH a lot of opera, I LISTEN to it, and I know I am missing out by not watching. Yes, I prefer to watch opera in person, but don't have the $$ to go fly to X,Y or Z to go see them.

Yes, I support the home team of MOT, but will leave the reviewing of them up to the ever so lame Mark Stryker, who most likely will lose his job at the Freep soon enough anyway.

Second reason - I like wine, I make some fun discoveries by experimenting, and what the hell, why not share?

Happy 2009, remember to have your lentil soup, or black-eyed peas, or whatever your culture symbolizes as a good-luck charm for this new year.
(and if anyone can tell me what it is in Hungary, I would be most grateful)

Ciao, tutti!