Tag Archives: Bachtrack

happy anniversary, ‘Tosca,’ and an aria to celebrate!

Sondra Radvanovsky in Tosca

Sondra as Tosca in the Metropolitan Opera production

Today marks the anniversary of a beloved, and I do mean a beloved, opera–Tosca, which premiered in on January 14, 1900in Rome, Italy. One stunning aria after another. A bad guy who is so utterly evil he makes your blood run cold. A flawed but valiant heroine who lives and dies for love.

It is my favorite Puccini opera–bar none.

Two years ago this month, I saw Tosca at the Met, and it was a life-changing performance for me. (You can read my Bachtrack review here. )

While some of the “regie” directorial choices were clearly questionable, the performances were nothing short of stunning. I fell in love with Marcelo Álvarez as Cavaradossi. German baritone Falk Struckmann gave a chilling performance as the villain Scarpia, one of the best I’ve ever seen on stage in the U.S.

But it was American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky who would seal my fate as a Tosca devotee for the rest of my life.

As it turned out, I was lucky to escape that performance with my life intact. See, during her second art aria, “Vissi d’arte,” which was absolutely breathtaking, Sondra hit that high note around 3:11 on the video below, and it took my breath away–literally. I gulped in air and began coughing.

Just my luck, that gorgeous high note at 3:11 resolves sotto voce in the next few measures. I thought the people sitting around me were going to kill me. Because the end of the song is so quiet, I couldn’t scrounge around in the my purse for a lozenge to stop the coughing. I almost died trying to hold my breath until the end of the song.

But death would have been a noble end if Sondra’s voice were the last thing I’d heard before expiring.

Thank you, Sondra Radvanovsky, for your peerless artistry, and for teaching me a lesson. Never sit through a live performance of opera without a lozenge clenched in your fist.

Here is Sondra’s stellar, gorgeous, captivating aria, for you to enjoy, too:

YouTube Preview Image


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Filed under anniversary, Performers, sopranos

Bachtrack launches One Stop Arts, new arts listings and review site showcasing London

Shakespeare's King John at the Union Theatre

Today, Bachtrack unveiled its classy new website called “One Stop Arts” at onestoparts.com, which aims to do for the London arts scene what Bachtrack did for classical music. One Stop Arts adds plays, musicals, museums, exhibitions, galleries and modern dance to the classical music, opera and ballet that has been Bachtrack’s staple. There are already several thousand performance dates on the site, with coverage planned to increase rapidly.

“To date we have concentrated our efforts on the classical sector, but we are equally passionate about the rest of the arts,” says Alison Karlin, Bachtrack founder. “I’ve spoken to many people who don’t believe there is an existing arts site which adequately serves their needs. One Stop Arts is already crammed with events, and we look forward to hearing from arts curators and marketeers to add many more.”

One Stop Arts builds on Bachtrack’s expertise in complex listings databases, adding a completely new graphic design. The result is a website that makes it phenomenally easy to zero in on a performance you’re looking for, as well as being fun to browse around if you didn’t have any fixed ideas to start with. “Classical concerts are about as tricky as listings get,” says David Karlin, Bachtrack founder, “because concert-goers can be so specific about precisely which symphony or soloist they want to see. For One Stop Arts, we’ve built a completely new technology platform to provide great searching and browsing on an even richer and more extensive set of data.”

Dickens and Ghosts at the British Library through March 4

Bachtrack’s customers are enthusiastic. “The combined strengths of Bachtrack’s deep database and One Stop Arts’ broad cultural appeal will make this site a must for all classical music marketers,” says Jo Johnson, head of digital marketing at the London Symphony Orchestra.

One Stop Arts reviews cover items as diverse as the Anselm Kiefer’s artworks at the White Cube, Man in the Middle (Ron Elisha’s docu-drama about Julian Assange) and the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy. Alison Karlin puts the aims of One Stop Arts succinctly: “As a Londoner all my life I want those who live in London or simply visit this amazing city to appreciate quite how much it has to offer.”

 * * *

You can receive status updates on One Stop Arts by liking their Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter @onestoparts!

Congratulations, Alison and David!

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Filed under Classical Arts marketing, Opera Marketing

What is your favorite Verdi opera?

October is Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday month. We’re celebrating the 19th Century Italian composer and his works all month long on this blog.

Some consider Verdi the Shakespeare of opera–in which case, one month hardly seems sufficient time for commemoration. Actually writer Marion Lignana Rosenberg is already preparing for Verdi’s birth year in 2013 right now via her blog Verdi Duecento.

Bavarian State Opera will present Verdi's Luisa Miller in 2012

At least twelve of Verdi’s twenty-eight operas constitute the backbone of today’s opera repertoire–worldwide. According to Bachtrack, the world’s best way to find live classical performance, there will be more than 400 performances of Verdi operas by major houses worldwide through 2012.

Do you have a favorite Verdi opera? If your favorite appears below, feel free to take the poll:


Filed under Audience participation, Classic Opera, Classical Composers, Opera Stats, Poll

‘Rigoletto’ potpourri: a tale, trivia, and a magical performance

MOT's 'Rigoletto' opened May 14

Editor’s note: All month long, in honor of Verdi’s birthday, we will celebrate all things Verdi on Operatoonity.com. This Golden Operatoonity repost features my favorite Verdi opera “Rigoletto.”

Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto premiered in Venice, Italy in 1851. Based on a story by Victor Hugo, Rigoletto is a darkly tragic, gut-wrenching opera that ends in a senseless death. But at least for one performance at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden circa 1948, Rigoletto turned into a bit of a comedy:

English tenor Walter Midgley was playing the Duke.  During the aria “Questa o quella,”  a lively, upbeat piece, Midgley caught the end of his fake mustache in his mouth and gradually sucked in the entire thing, which eventually lodged itself in his windpipe. If losing his fake mustache wasn’t enough of distraction, at the end of the aria, Midgley managed to blow it out across the stage, into the orchestra pit, and right into the conductor’s face.

According to Bachtrack, the world’s best way to find live classical music, Rigoletto was one of the ten most performing operas in the world  in 2009-10.

Tenor David Lomeli singing the Duke in COC's 'Rigoletto'

Canadian Opera Company is doing Rigoletto this season with a first-rate cast.

In celebration of Rigoletto’s 160th anniversary, here is a link to “Questa o quella,” sans any extra slapstick comedy, from one of my favorite productions last season, Rigoletto a Mantova, as sung by the ever-appealing Italian tenor  Vittorio Grigolo.


Filed under Microtales, Opera and humor, Premieres

opera or Broadway?

I got lucky earlier this month when I went to the Big Apple. I didn’t have to choose between seeing an opera or Broadway show. I packed them both in one day–Ariadne auf Naxos at the Met and Anything Goes at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre later that night. I realize I was fortunate to have seen both. Today’s theatre prices might have demanded I choose.  No, I’m not independently wealthy. I hadn’t seen a Broadway play since 2008.    

Surprising, really, for someone whose early ambition was to be on Broadway, that I would rather travel to New York to see opera than catch the hottest Broadway show. Stunning, considering I never used to miss the Tony Awards and always tried to pick the winners ahead of time, always knowing most of the contenders. Now, I have a strong command of many of the names and personalities you’re likely to see at the Met and other houses in addition to the roles they are playing. And let’s not forget who’s doing what–thanks to Bachtrack.com, which I consult regularly. Yet I couldn’t tell you more than a handful of details about the current slate of shows on the Great White Way.     

I enjoyed both productions though perhaps not equally. The point of this post isn’t really to pit opera against Broadway and make the reader choose. The point is to tell you that I think my love affair with Broadway has ended–and that I have a new love interest. Begins with an “o.” Ends in an “a.” Five letters.    

No, it’s not Omaha.    

It’s opera, of course. But why? Because it is so damn difficult to sing and to present. And the performers and houses that do it well make an art form that requires consummate skill and knowhow look easy, like you should try it at home.    

Unless you are a trained professional, don’t even attempt opera singing. You might kill yourself. Or the people living with you, if you persist.    

I won’t go into the reasons why I didn’t pursue that Broadway career. Had life circumstances not changed my path radically, I think I might have made it. I did have talent way back when. Whereas I never could’ve sung opera professionally. Too difficult. It requires too much discipline to study and perform.    

Damrau, Florez, and DiDonota in Le Comte Ory

Too much vocal skill. Skill and vocal calisthenics that many Broadway performers would have a hard time matching–certainly not night after night, performance after performance. Right now, I’m remembering the bedroom scene during Act II of the Metropolitan Opera’s Le Comte Ory. Not only are the three principals acting–deftly–with broad comic timing. They are also singing Rossini at the same time. Rossini. As I said in my review on Le Comte Ory for Bachtrack, “The tryst scene in Act II in which Diego Flórez, Damrau, and DiDonato sing ‘À la faveur de cette nuit obscure’ was the ideal synthesis of song and performance.”   

I’ve never seen Rent and doubt I ever will. The last thing I want is to pay heapum lottum money to be serenaded by an audience of Rent-heads.    

Given the chance to see another professional production of La bohème, I’m there faster than you can say, “Mimi.”


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