Category Archives: Holidays

celebrating The American Tenors on the Fourth of July

Of course, America boasts lots of talented tenors who could (and should) be celebrated today, the day when the United States of America was born with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776.

But have you heard of  the performing group The American Tenors: the trio of  Marcus McConico, Nathan Granner, and Ben Gulley? Now, that’s American! A patriotic musical package of sorts, perfect for featuring on a Fourth of July Operatoonity post.

From l to r: Nathan Granner, Ben Gulley, Marcus McConico

The American Tenors were the brainchild of Frank McNamara (the creative force behind the success of The Irish Tenors), and were launched following a nationwide search early in 2002 by McNamara. The American Tenors began their journey with a PBS special recorded at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, following a signing by Sony Classical.

The American Tenors have delighted audiences across the U.S. and Europe with their combination of great voices, humor and choice of material from “Nessun Dorma” to “West Side Story,”  from the Great American Songbook to Neopolitan favorites.

“We are set to hit 24 dates this coming season,” Nathan Granner, the only original member of the group (and the most enterprising tenor I know), said of their 2011-12 contracts. “We have usually had two or three gigs a year, but this year is  more robust.”

I’ll say!

Ben Gulley is the newest member of the group and was “plucked from close to home,” per Granner. “He’s young, versatile, charming and an amazing voice! His career is skyrocketing. Also we have Marcus McConico, who has been with us for five years.”

Tenor Daniel Montenegro  sang  with The American Tenors for five years. “We miss him deeply. But he’s doing well. His career in opera is flourishing,” explained Granner, with Montenegro being a new Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera.

Interestingly, Granner reports that the group has had six tenors participating to date.

Here is a YouTube clip celebrating The American Tenors, past and present, singing “Shenandoah,” one of my all-time favorite American folk songs from their Great American Songbook. (To hear Granner, Gulley, and McConico singing together, listen to this clip from their website):

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Happy Birthday, USA, my home sweet home.

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Filed under Heartstoppers, Holidays, opera trends, Video

the state of opera in Ireland

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and you may have ingested a green beer or two. 

Do you know the state of opera in Ireland? 

As a part of a government plan to establish Ireland’s first national opera company in 2011, something for which Opera Ireland has long campaigned and formally proposed to the Irish government in 2009, Opera Ireland has voluntarily wound down its opera producing organization and related services, as agreed upon at the end of a successful 2010 and almost seventy years of history as the main provider of professional grand opera in Ireland’s capital city of Dublin. 

Following the 2010-2011 season, the planned hand-over to a new national company called Irish National Opera (INO ) will be completed. 

According to Niall Doyle, the Chief Executive for Opera Ireland, the first INO productions are now being planned  for 2012. 

Opera Ireland's Don G., 2009


When a national opera company in Ireland finally emerges, Ireland will no longer be the only European country without a national company. It offers a platform to provide Irish opera with the same levels of national recognition, commitment and support we have provided so well for other great art forms. Opera Ireland is taking the ultimate step of bringing down its own final curtain as a separate producing company. 

It is the sincere hope of all who care about opera in Ireland that Irish National Opera will be a great success and will incorporate and develop further the great artistic traditions, audience relationships and audience reach at the heart of the two companies on which it is to be built to make a positive move forward for opera and audiences in Ireland. 

–Niall Doyle 

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Holidays, International opera

Wordle I do without you, my opera Tweeps?

Thanks to TweetStats, I was able to create a Tweet Cloud representing my sphere of influence on Twitter. This was all done scientifically, of course, and not through anything I controlled. I merely added my Twitter address, and TweetStats calculated this cloud for me.

What’s amazing to me is that I’d never known anyone who appears in this cloud before 2010. I’ve met every single one of them through Twitter. Every opera company, every non-profit associated with the operasphere, every performer, or opera buff in this cloud, I never knew existed before I began Tweeting. 

Now, thanks to Twitter, I’ve met so many new, interesting and accomplished people and made dozens more contacts within the world of opera.

In the spirit of the season, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday and let you know how grateful I am to have found you all on Twitter.

Maybe Twitter is really the bluebird of happiness!

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, favorites, Holidays, Opera and social media

Christmas oratorio auf Deutsch, sung by them English–lovely in any language

Oratorio on “Operatoonity”? Ach du lieber, mensch.

Not a stretch–not really. In many ways, oratorio is a lot like opera. Oratorios use a choir of singers, soloists, an ensemble,  musicians/orchestral accompaniment, and arias. Perhaps oratorios are most like concert operas though oratorios are sometimes staged like operas.

Here’s seven-ish minutes of sheer seasonal joy. Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists in a performance of Bach‘s Christmas Oratorio BWV 248.

As you’re listening, just know that I’m not changing the name of my blog to “Oratorioonity,” okay, not even for this beautiful clip because that would just be silly. And we all know, I’m above doing silly things like that. You just won’t find anything silly on this blog, so don’t even try. Instead, try to enjoy this oratorio:

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Filed under Classical Composers, Classical Music, Holidays

favorite December opera, anyone?

Winter Solstice

Every December, I expect to see less daylight but more white twinkle lights during my evening commute and hear musical selections I don’t hear the other eleven months of the year. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Winter Solstice, holiday music is imbued with certain qualities–that includes classical music.    

Thanks to Western religions, December has a certain musical sensibility about it. Consider the  following selection of operas. Many of them–Hänsel and Gretel (Humperdinck), Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti) and Norma (Bellini) –actually premiered in December. Some of them have a certain lightness to them–Daughter of the Regiment, La Cenerentola–that warms you like wrapping a woolen mitten around your heart. Others like La bohème have a cold, snowy, Little-Match-Girl affect to them.    

Which is your favorite? All write-ins welcome in the comments section. If you’re curious to see what’s playing in the month of December around the world, you can see all the listings of many major houses at Bachtrack.


Filed under Audience participation, Classic Opera, favorites, Holidays, Poll