“Young soprano Elizabeth Gentner…has a supple, full-bodied voice perhaps better suited for a larger venue, but displayed a confidence and command of comedy unusual in a performer at such an early stage in her career.” ~Kathleen Whalen, Daily Republic Correspondent
Happy Birthday to Victor Borge! #TodayInOpera Victor Borge, Meet @TheMuppets
#TodayInOpera Gustave Charpentiers opera Louise, premiered in Paris in 1900. Here is Leontyne Price singing “Depuis le jour.”
#TodayInOpera 1843 Wagner’s opera “Der Fliegende Holländer” premiered in Dresden Here’s Birgit Nilssen singing Senta’s Aria
Happy Birthday to Viktor Ullmann, opera composer (Der Kaiser von Atlantis) #TodayInOpera
A dramatic soprano of the highest caliber, who made, Turandot one of Puccini’s most challenging roles her own. This recording of her In questa reggia is one of my favorites!
A little fun: If you skip to about 3:40, this is one of those adorable and suave things that Placido Domingo does that makes him one of my personal favorites.
The great Dame Eva Turner expounds on the Character that she made her own!
Happy Birthday to Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev!
Born #TodayInOpera 1891, the composer from the Ukraine has a wide variety of compositions that have made their way into the core repertoire. One such masterpiece is Петя и волк, Petya i volk or Peter and the Wolf!
I truly don’t have a count for how many times I’ve heard this piece, It is such a significant part of my childhood memories. I remember having heard the piece on a car road trips, I remember watching the Disney cartoon, I vaguely remember seeing it performed live, but no one in my family is certain when that happened. (This is just because we go to so many concerts it’s hard to be sure.)
There is not, in my opinion, a clearer example of thematic composition used to greater advantage. The piece truly informed the way I LISTEN to music. I could identify the instruments and tell you what was happening to two characters at once. I began to listen for changes in key even if I wasn’t able yet to identify the difference. I could listen to the whole thing focusing on one character or another depending on my mood. It Was Fun!
I still think it’s one of the best “introduction to orchestra” pieces ever written! So thank you Maestro Prokofiev, we celebrate your birth!
Franco Corelli sings “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca
This is the aria, sung by the man, from the opera.
It can bring me to tears before the clarinet finishes its first few notes. I know every word, every note and every breath. I’ll never sing this, myself. I know how this story ends. I know how it started. It makes me cry, every time.
He’s a painter and a political rebel, she’s the reigning operatic superstar of her time and they love each other. She’s absurdly jealous. He’s dangerously impulsive. They know the flaws and joys of being genuinely in love with a real person. A corrupt politician throws the lover’s world into chaos because of his own lust. The lovers are threatened with torture, rape and murder. He’s locked in a cage awaiting his own execution, and he sells his last material possession to send her a letter.
You see, he thinks he’s lost her… That moment is the most telling. That singular moment when he thinks he will never see her again. That’s how you know what he really thinks, what he really feels… Well, at least, that’s what the storybooks say….
The suspended agony, the revelry in the moment is something uniquely operatic. In “real life” this is a breath, a fleeting memory. In operatic theater, this is beauty, pain, pleasure, hope, loss, anger, irony, desire and so much more. These conflicting sensations vibrate the air in suspended animation for performer and audience alike to feel. We hear our very humanity ringing in the air.
This and other moments like it are why opera has been my life’s work. It gives us more than the 3 dimensions that life offers us regularly. Opera demands that time itself hold still, while we revel in awe at Love.
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Enjoy what you have and who you have and revel in your own fleeting moments.
In 1781, Mozart’s grand opera Idomeneo premiered with Mozart conducting the Bavarian State Opera (Bayerische Staatsoper) in the Residence Theater (Residenztheater) in Munich (München).
The above scene, performed by dramatic soprano Hildegard Behrens, is just prior to the finale of the opera. Elettra has just been told by the gods that she will not be with Idamante with whom she is in love. Desolate, she looses her mind and begins having delusions of snakes tormenting her and she cries out that the must finish her own life.
This clip is how I fell in love with the voice of Marilyn Horne. I was learning this duet for a concert. I had heard her sing in recordings many times before. However, this recording is how I became familiar with the depth and versatility of her artistry! Happy Birthday Maestra!