• Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)

    by Published on June 17th, 2012 03:52 PM
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    Dear readers, on Sunday June 24 in the morning Opera Lively interviewed over the phone the world's leading authority in Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi - Dr. Philip Gossett, a distinguished professor of music from the University of Chicago, in anticipation of the world premiere of the critical edition of Maometto II by Santa Fe Opera on July 14 (see full announcement and ticket information further down). [Opera Lively interview # 35]

    Not only we have published below the full text of this long and fascinating interview, but Dr. Gossett has registered as an Opera Lively member and will be replying to questions directly in the 'Comments' field of this article - so our members now have a rare opportunity to directly dialogue in real time and ask questions they might have about 19th. century Italian opera - let's call it "Everything you always wanted to know about Italian opera but were afraid to ask." If you have questions for Dr. Gossett, type them up in the Comments field, and time permitting, he'll reply. This is a new format for Opera Lively and a very interesting one; so, members, fire up your doubts about recordings, productions, historical facts, etc., regarding the operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, and others.
    by Published on June 8th, 2012 03:16 AM
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    Maometto II will be getting a brand new, historically important production in Santa Fe, featuring for the first time ever the brand new Critical Edition prepared by Dutch scholar Hans Schellevis. This version hasn't even been published yet, and is scheduled to appear in print in 2013, edited by musicologist Phillip Gossett, who is advising the production team in Santa Fe and will be present during rehearsals.
    by Published on June 6th, 2012 09:59 PM
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    Luiz Gazzola has interviewed Martin Smolka, the acclaimed contemporary composer, whose opera Nagano was very well received by critics. The interview was initially scheduled to happen in-person in Prague, but Mr. Smolka had to be absent from the city during Almaviva's visit, so we did it over Skype the week before, on June 23, 2012. Click on Read More then scroll down for the full interview. [Opera Lively interview # 33]

    Mr. Smolka is the leading representative of his generation of Czech composers, widely recognized at home and abroad.

    From his student years he followed his own temperamental and aesthetic tendencies in a self-conscious way, seeking to define his own musical originality. He then systematically based his musical language on his introspective insights. It is a language dominated by slow tempos, "detuned" consonances, a dreamy, melancholic mood, and playfulness in the use and treatment of unusual sounds.

    In 1983 he co-founded Agon, a group specializing in contemporary unconventional music in which he worked as artistic director and pianist until 1998. In the course of Agon projects he has also carried out research (quarter-tone music by the pupils of Alois Hába, the 1960s in Prague), and the realization of graphic scores and conceptual music (the works by John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, Daniel Goode and Milan Grygar).

    He co-authored the book Graphic Scores and Concepts. ...
    by Published on June 1st, 2012 07:06 PM
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    Opera Lively is pleased that outstanding mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has granted us an exclusive interview. [Opera Lively interview # 32] Ms. DiDonato's thoughtful and intelligent answers are a pleasure to read. The questions were by Almaviva. Click on Read More below then scroll down for the full interview. You can write comments at the bottom of the page if you're a registered member (registration is free and only takes a couple of minutes). Please bookmark our site and come back for more; we're constantly bringing in new and exciting interviews.

    © Opera Lively - Disclaimer: this exclusive interview is copyrighted by Opera Lively with all rights reserved, and is not to be reproduced without express authorization. Brief excerpts can be used after consultation (use the Contact Us form) as long as proper credit and a link to the full interview on Opera Lively are provided. Links to the interview can be posted without authorization.


    Artist - Joyce DiDonato
    Born in - Prairie Village, Kansas, U.S.A.
    Fach - Coloratura mezzo-soprano
    Moniker - The Yankee Diva
    Recently in - Donizetti's Maria Stuarda - Houston Grand Opera
    Currently in - Rossini's La Cenerentola - Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich) - May 29, June 2, 7, 10
    Next Engagements - Summer Recitals in Berlin, Paris, London, Munich and other cities
    Upcoming TV broadcast - PBS (United States, nationwide) on July 20 - PBS Arts Summer Festival
    Official Web Site - http://www.joycedidonato.com/
    Amazon.com Store for Joyce DiDonato products - [click here]

    by Published on May 30th, 2012 12:53 PM

    Opera Holland Park (London, UK) season begins
    June 7, 2012

    See detailed announcement below
    by Published on May 29th, 2012 06:08 AM
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    In anticipation of the Bard Summerscape production of Emmanuel Chabrier's outstanding comic opera Le Roi Malgré Lui directed by Opera Lively interviewee Thaddeus Strassberger and with the title role sung by OL interviewee Liam Bonner, we'll be examining in detail this work that is still mostly neglected by opera houses and recording labels, in spite of being considered by scholars as Chabrier's masterpiece, and being wildly admired by other composers such as Ravel and Stravinsky.
    by Published on May 25th, 2012 02:50 PM
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    This article introduces some pointers about the real cities behind the legendary sources for Berlioz's opera Les Troyens. It's just as a matter of curiosity and trivia, therefore it is placed in the cluster "Around the Opera." We also address what happened to the legendary Aeneas after the events in the opera.
    by Published on May 21st, 2012 10:31 PM

    Attention, members. You can catch many Metropolitan Opera performances that were seen on Live in HD on your TV at home. Check out the schedule for PBS broadcasts of Met performances on this website: [click here]

    See Air Dates below
    by Published on May 21st, 2012 06:09 PM
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    Opera Lively has interviewed acclaimed American operatic stage director Thaddeus Strassberger. Brace yourselves, readers. This is a long interview, but worth every line of it. We believe it is one of the most interesting interviews with an operatic artist we have ever read - no, we are not being immodest and attributing the interest to Opera Lively's questions, but rather to Mr. Strassberger's answers. [Opera Lively interview #31]

    Be prepared to maybe change your views about Regietheater; to think in a more informed way about when to update opera; to reflect upon how we should be staging Verdi, and to enhance your understanding of what operatic stage direction entails.

    Mr. Strassberger gave us a true lesson on how to stage opera, not only walking us through every step of the creative process, but also introducing comments and concepts that are precious and rich in information. So doing, he demonstrated sophisticated knowledge of the field and true passion for the art form.

    Some of his views may be seen by certain readers as controversial, but he is very articulate and proposes strong argumentation in favor of his vision. We expect that this interview will generate an interesting debate, so feel free to use the 'comments' field at will.

    Our thanks to Mr. Strassberger's manager Mr. Albert Imperato and his associate Mr. Devon Estes, both from 21C Media Group, who made arrangements for the interview.

    by Published on May 20th, 2012 09:35 PM

    Let's talk about the vocal demands for the singers in Les Troyens, and some notable performers who took upon themselves to do justice to this formidable work.

    Aeneas, or Énée in French, is a Trojan hero, son of Venus and Anchise. This tenor role was created by Jules-Sébastien Monjauze. It is a nightmare to cast, and one of the explanations for the fact that Les Troyens is not an opera that is often given, since it escapes the possibilities of most opera houses.
    by Published on May 20th, 2012 09:32 PM
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    This article intends to examine the intellectual context for the opera Les Troyens by Berlioz, and how its theme is inserted in a certain concept of History, and demonstrates how it is musically conveyed. ...
    by Published on May 20th, 2012 05:19 PM
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    This article will examine the differences between Berlioz's operatic masterpiece Les Troyens and its literary source, Virgil's Aeneid. Berlioz wrote his own libretto, borrowing extensively from his source, but also changing it in various ways.

    Les Troyens is mostly based on books I, II, and IV of the Aeneid but also uses material from other parts of the poem.
    by Published on May 19th, 2012 09:46 PM
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    The June 2012 issue of Opera News magazine has arrived, and it contains an interview with lovely Leah Crocetto. We beat Opera News to the task since we published an exclusive interview with her before they did!

    Some other news from this issue:

    The HD Summer Encores schedule is Anna Bolena on June 13, Le Comte Ory on June 20, Don Giovanni on June 27, Les Contes d'Hoffmann on July 11, Lucia di Lammermoor on July 18, and Der Rosenkavalier on July 25.

    The Met has released Met Opera on Demand, a new app for the iPad that allows streaming access to their videos.

    Sir Thomas Allen ...
    by Published on May 19th, 2012 03:25 AM

    Opera Concert with the Fayetteville Symphony

    Sat., May 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Performed by Bill Ayerbe, violin, with Bill McMurray, Triangle Opera Studios, Christine Weidinger, director, & Ken Smith, narrator

    Seabrook Auditorium, 1200 Murchison Road , Fayetteville, NC 28301

    by Published on May 19th, 2012 02:52 AM

    We are pleased to learn that an opera company in Raleigh, NC that was active for many years then closed down, has just been re-activated, and presented Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne on October 15, 2011.

    They are presenting their second production of this re-launching, Mozart's Impresario tomorrow, Saturday, May 19, 2012.
    by Published on May 18th, 2012 12:32 AM
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    Berlioz with friends, in Liszt's home


    Les Troyens is scored for a large orchestra, with piccolos, English horn, four bassoons, trumpets and piston cornets, six or more harps, two dozen players off-stage, and an enormous chorus.

    Technically speaking, it has the structure of a numbers opera, but Berlioz doesn't always engage in traditional recitatives and arias, but also employs freer structures such as monologue, scene, and pantomime. His dialogues and narratives are set down over orchestral movements rather than a simple accompaniment. The orchestra therefore does fill the gaps and provides imagery, which in some respects evokes Wagner's operas of the same period.
    by Published on May 17th, 2012 01:38 AM
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    Some trivia about
    Les Troyens

    An entry for 1854 in Berlioz's memoirs reads: "For the last three years I have been tormented by the idea of a vast opera for which I would write both the words and the music ... I am resisting the temptation of carrying out this project, and I hoe I will resist to the end."
    by Published on May 16th, 2012 04:39 AM
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    First of all, let's start with the first staging, the premiere in 1863. Here you will find sketches of the original sets (these are just acts III to V, but they were divided for this staging of Les Troyens à Carthage in five acts), and then a full review of the performance, in French, as published on a Paris newspaper at the time. Then, scrolling down, you'll find video clips of modern stagings.

    This material was recovered from the excellent website www.hberlioz.com maintained by Dr. Monir Tayeb and Dr. Michel Austin. The French newspaper article can be found here:


    The series of pictures of the design of the first performance of Les Troyens can be found here:


    We thank Dr. Tayeb and Dr. Austin for their kind permission to include this material here, with citation of the source.

    by Published on May 16th, 2012 01:46 AM

    Hector Berlioz's Les Troyens is one of the most complex and rewarding operas in the repertory. It's been dubbed "The Latin Ring" for its scale and epic arc. While much shorter than Wagner's masterpiece, Les Troyens is a long opera, originally intended to be presented over two evenings, with an average running time of up to six hours if intermissions are counted.

    This series of articles will provide an in-depth analysis of this formidable work, which has not enjoyed the popularity that it deserves due to the enormous demands it imposes on an opera company. Les Troyens is not easy to stage, given its vast chorus, long duration, frequent and radical scene changes, and numerous characters. Only the most accomplished opera companies are able to put together a convincing production of this piece, which explains the rarity of its stagings, complete recordings, and video discs.
    by Published on May 16th, 2012 12:49 AM

    There is a complete Les Troyens on YouTube, high def image, good sound, and it is Sir John Eliot Gardiner's spectacular performance at the Châtelet in Paris (unfortunately fragmented in several small clips):

    38 recordings of Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz, up to 2007

    Many of these recordings are not complete. We need to get down to number 16 to have the first complete performance of Les Troyens ever (actually, it was recorded a little later). It's the one by Sir Colin Davis at Covent Garden in 1969.

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