Tag Archives: Mozart

New York Opera Exchange gets Così with technology

By setting Così fan tutte in contemporary society, the New York Opera Exchange revitalizes the universal themes of love and fidelity in Mozart’s popular 1790 opera with the frothy story line and the lush music.

Guest Director Cameron J. Marcotte

Their production directed by Cameron J. Marcotte explores how modern technological innovations and current events affect relationships with others.

Four evening performances in collaboration with the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra are slated for April 26 through the 29th at the Church of the Covenant on 310 E 42ndSt. between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.

Why contemporize the show? In today’s age of innovation in media, technology colors love.  In a world so fundamentally driven by opinion and social class, opposites attract now more than ever. In this new version of Così fan tutte, the characters live in a complex world where a Facebook relationship status carries as much weight as an eighteenth century marriage contract and where an executive in the one-percent may fall in love with an Occupy Wall Street protestor.

“Our goal is to hold up a mirror to our contemporary audience and reveal, with comical overtones, that this farcical world may not be so different from our own.” — New York Opera Exchange

Soprano Rachel Ann Hippert is sharing the role of Fiordiligi . . .

NY Opera Exchange aims to create performance opportunities with orchestra for young emerging artists on the cusp of professional breakthrough.  They strive to make opera accessible for the diverse New York population, creating a supportive environment for both the musicians and audience. There will be supertitles for the sung Italian and an original English text for the recitative.

The production features two casts:


Fiordiligi: Rachel Anne Hippert
Dorabella: Abi Levis
Despina: Amanda Chmela
Ferrando: Justin Werner
Guglielmo: Joe Beckwith
Don Alfonso: Brad Baron

. . . with soprano Rebecca Shorstein


Fiordiligi: Rebecca Shorstein
Dorabella: Kate Wiswell
Despina: Becca Conviser
Ferrando: Jeffrey Taveras
Guglielmo: Bob Balonek
Don Alfonso: Jason Cox

Tickets are $25 each ($15 student rush) and are available at the door or in advance at www.nyoperaexchange.com

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, North American Opera, Opera and humor, opera and irony, opera and technology

for Mozart’s birthday, I’m putting on a few airs

"Had this man Mozart lived, none of the rest of us would earn a crust of bread for our operas." - Antonio Salieri

Wolfgang Amadeus [Amadé] Mozart was born today,  January 27, 1756, in  Salzburg, Austria.

“Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music,” Tchaikovsky said. And of course, he was just one of many composers with highest praise of Mozart–Rossini, Brahms, Gounod, Bernstein, to name a few others.

To celebrate, I’m putting on airs–arias (for the uninitiated, that’s what aria means in Italian). And I received numerous wonderful titles from the Twittersphere when I asked for favorite Mozart arias.

I have my own faves, which like my best loved foods and wines, I go back to again and again. But on this august occasion, I am happy to share others’ favorite arias by the birthday boy, as much for myself as for you.

This is the musical version of me trying sushi rather than ordering another filet mignon, medium rare.

Here’s three arias (airs) offered up like pure and noble sacrifices from some of the lovely folks populating my humble but extremely useful Twitter feed pour vous.

Soprano La Toya Lewis (@LaToyaLewis) mentioned “Hai già vinta la causa” from The Marriage of Figaro as one of her favorites. Here’s a fine version from American baritone Rodney Gilfrey:

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More than one Twitter compadre named “Come scoglio”  from Così fan tutte as their favorite Mozart aria. Brandon Antoine (@B_A_L_Baritone),  soprano Kate L. Fenech (@MissFeneshhhhh), and Pokrovsky Opera (@Pokrovsky_Opera), who  mentioned this clip in their Tweet, from Salzburg 2009 sung by Miah Persson:

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Finally, here’s Mexican Tenor Ramón Vargas performing “Fuor del mar” from Idomeneo, who Paulo Montoya (@operarules) must concede is spectacular:

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Filed under Audience participation, Classic Opera, Classical Composers, Favorite arias, Mozart, Opera anniversaries

‘1003 in Spain alone. Boy, and I thought I had a misspent youth!’

Don G. poster designed by Jose Llopis

(As part of the run-up to Mozart’s birthday tomorrow, I am delighted to share with you some reflections on Don Giovanni in today’s guest post from the esteemed Stephen Llewellyn, aka Operaman entitled “1003 in Spain alone. Boy, and I thought I had a misspent youth.”)

by Stephen Llewellyn

Don Giovanni is one of a small handful of operas that on any given day I am prepared to pronounce my favourite opera. Note that I am not suggesting that it is the greatest opera ever written. Not even that it is Mozart’s greatest opera (most people would, I think, accord that honour to Le Nozze di Figaro.) But it is a work I never cease to love and marvel at.

Why? Well, prima la musica (‘first the music and then the words’), of course. Whether it be the humour of ‘Madamina, il catalògo e questo’ (the pre-cursor to Arthur Sullivan’s patter songs perhaps), the sheer beauty of ‘Deh vieni alla finestra’ or that “exquisite waste of time” ‘Il mio tesoro,’ Mozart’s pen spewed tunes that still leave us trembling, smiling, and whistling.

(Here’s a charming clip of Simon Keenlyside singing ‘Deh vieni alla finestra.’)

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But that glorious music alone wouldn’t do it without Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto masterpiece which, when taken with the music, lays before us what seems like the whole of the human condition.  I can think of no writer, except Shakespeare, who manages to present the landscape of humankind before us, warts and all, without bitterness or judgement.

I suppose if you are an opera composer looking for a worldly-wise wordsmith who can get to grips with love, lust, chicanery, comedy, tragedy, life and death, you would be hard put to do better than Da Ponte. Born a Jew, converted to Roman Catholicism, took holy orders, seduced another man’s wife (with whom he had children), managed a whore house with her, ultimately fleeing to America where he became a grocer in Brooklyn before taking a post as the first professor of Italian literature at Columbia University. Yes, there was a man who knew life!

Don Giovanni's demise | c. New York City Opera

I could rattle on for pages on how each scene of the opera holds its own unique treasures but as space does not permit, let me jump to the ending.  What an ending! The Don is given the opportunity to admit the error or his ways and receive God’s – and our – absolution.  He’ll have none of it, preferring to remain true to himself and be damned.

Excuse me but I need to get online and see whether any company within a hundred miles of where I am sitting has plans to give us Don Giovanni any time soon. I am so there.

* * *

About the Author: Stephen Llewellyn is a former barrister, an Internet luminary, an #Operaplot champion, an opera devotee, bon vivant, and a blogger of record for the Portland Opera Company. You can read more about him in this scintillating Operatoonity Q&A.


Editor’s Note: If you, like Operaman, have Don G. fever, you can visit Bachtrack.com at this link for the production playing (or soon to run) nearest you. Since Stephen is across the pond, he can also consult One Stop Arts to see what operas are playing in London these days. You’re in luck, Stephen. Don G. is at the ROH until Feb. 29.

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Filed under Classic Opera, Don Giovanni, Guest post, Mozart

100 greatest operas . . . really?

Couldn’t resist posting this list I found (in cyberspace) of the 100 greatest operas ever written. What do you think about this list? How did the list maker do? Any work missing, in your estimation? Does Wagner deserve the top two spots, as listed? (In fact, nearly every Wagner is listed before we hit one Donizetti at #31.)

Why is it that we so seldom see some of these top 100 operas in performance (in the United States, at least)? For instance, Louise by Charpentier is a beautiful work, rarely performed. It’s as if every company hauls out the same 20-25 operas every year.

Lyric Opera of Chicago's Tristan and Isolde with Clifton Forbis and Deborah Voigt

1. Der Ring des Nibelungen – Richard Wagner
2. Tristan Und Isolde – Richard Wagner
3. Don Giovanni – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
4. Otello – Giuseppe Verdi
5. The Marriage of Figaro – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
6. Aida – Giuseppe Verdi
7. La Boheme – Giacomo Puccini
8. Madame Butterfly – Giacomo Puccini
9. Der Rosenkavalier – Richard Strauss
10. Parsifal – Richard Wagner
11. Boris Godunov – Modest Mussorgsky
12. La Traviata – Giuseppe Verdi
13. Carmen – Georges Bizet
14. Die Meistersinger – Richard Wagner
15. The Magic Flute – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
16. Tosca – Giacomo Puccini
17. Falstaff – Giuseppe Verdi
18. Rigoletto – Giuseppe Verdi
19. The Barber Of Seville – Gioacchino Rossini
20. Cavalleria Rusticana – Pietro Mascagni
21. Il Trovatore – Giuseppe Verdi
22. Turandot – Giacomo Puccini
23. Faust – Charles Gounod
24. Lohengrin – Richard Wagner
25. Peter Grimes – Benjamin Britten
26. Norma – Vincenzo Bellini
27. Tannhauser – Richard Wagner
28. I Pagliacci – Rugierro Leoncavallo
29. Pelleas and Mellisande – Claude Debussy
30. Porgy & Bess – George Gershwin
31. Lucia Di Lammermoor – Gaetano Donizetti
32. Les Troyens – Hector Berlioz
33. Elektra – Richard Strauss
34. Cosi Fan Tutte – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
35. Fidelio – Ludwig Van Beethoven
36. Eugene Onegin – Peter Illitch Tchaikovsky
37. La Gioconda – Amiliare Ponchielli
38. Wozzeck – Alban Berg
39. Incoronazione di Poppea – Claudio Monteverdi
40. Salome – Richard Strauss
41. Dido and Aneas – Henry Purcell
42. The Cunning Little Vixen – Leos Janacek
43. Orpheus and Eurydice – Christoph Willibald Gluck
44. Don Carlos – Giuseppe Verdi
45. Orfeo – Claudio Monteverdi
46. Der Freischutz – Carl Maria von Weber
47. Samson and Delilah – Camille Saint-Saens
48. Tales of Hoffman – Jacques Offenbach
49. Hansel and Gretel – Engelbert Humperdink
50. The Flying Dutchman – Richard Wagner
51. The Rake’s Progress – Igor Stravinsky
52. Manon – Jules Massenet
53. The Bartered Bride – Bedrich Smetana
54. The Huguenots – Giacomo Meyerbeer
55. La Forza Del Destino – Giuseppe Verdi
56. Manon Lescaut – Giacomo Puccini
57. Ariadne auf Naxos – Richard Strauss
58. Romeo and Juliet – Charles Gounod
59. L’Elisir D’Amore – Gaetano Donizetti
60. Lakme – Leo Delibes
61. Andre Chenier – Umberto Giordano
62. Werther – Jules Massenet
63. Don Pasquale – Gaetano Donizetti
64. Jenufa – Leos Janacek
65. The Girl of the Golden West – Giacomo Puccini
66. La Sonnambula – Vincenzo Bellini
67. Turn of the Screw – Benjamin Britten
68. Duke Bluebeard’s Castle – Bela Bartok
69. William Tell – Gioacchino Rossini
70. The Masked Ball – Giuseppe Verdi
71. Julius Caesar – Georg Friedrich Handel
72. La Serva Padrona – Giovanni Pergolesi
73. Die Tote Stadt – Erich Wolfgang Korngold
74. Louise – Gustave Charpentier
75. Mefistofele – Arrigo Boito
76. I Puritani – Vincenzo Bellini
77. Semiramide – Gioacchino Rossini
78. L’Africaine – Giacomo Meyerbeer
79. Castor et Pollux – Jean-Philippe Rameau
80. La Cenerentola – Gioacchino Rossini
81. Pique Dame – Peter Illitch Tchaikovsky
82. Billy Budd – Benjamin Britten
83. La Fille du Regiment – Gaetano Donizetti
84. Le Prophete – Giacomo Meyerbeer
85. Le Coq D’or – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff
86. McBeth – Giuseppe Verdi
87. Les Pecheurs des Perles – Georges Bizet
88. The Pilgrim’s Progress – Ralph Vaughan Williams
89. Ernani – Giuseppe Verdi
90. Gianni Schicchi – Giacomo Puccini
91. Beatrice et Benedict – Hector Berlioz
92. Simon Boccanegra – Giuseppe Verdi
93. Prince Igor – Alexander Borodin
94. Nabucco – Giuseppe Verdi
95. The Abduction from the Seraglio – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
96. Euryanthe – Carl Maria von Weber
97. Dialogues des Carmelites – Frances Poulenc
98. Atys – Jean-Baptiste Lully
99. Thais – Jules Massenet
100. Martha – Friederich von Flotow


Filed under Audience participation, Classic Opera, Classical Composers, lists, Uncategorized

let’s get Così, shall we?

Today marks the anniversary of the premiere of Così fan tutte (Thus Do All Women or The School for Lovers) in 1790, in Vienna with Mozart himself conducting.   

Talk about a hot ticket at the beautiful Burgtheatre!   

Okay, fast forward 221 years. According to the opera listings on Bachtrack, there are 45 performances of Così at major houses worldwide through July of 2011.   

Vienna Burgtheatre


While it is not one the most performed operas worldwide per Bachtrack’s 2010 listings, it certainly remains a popular offering.   

The premise is a time-honored one at least as old as the Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C. to 17 A.D.) : A lover tests his wife’s fidelity by approaching her in disguise (well, actually, by slapping on a mustache) and pretending to be another man. Strangely during the 19th century and even into the early part of the 20th century, Così was considered beneath Mozart’s genius precisely because of its frothy storyline.   

The world's best disguise--a mustache! from Pennsylvania Opera Theater's Cosi


Opera blogger and Bachtrack guru David Karlin, who recently saw Così at the Royal Academy of Music in London, said in his review of the production, “It’s the combination of trivial, light-hearted comedy and music that hits your soul directly which is responsible for Così‘s enduring popularity.”   

Last year the renowned opera blogger Operaman, aka Stephen Llewellyn, tweeted that this trio “Soave il vento” from Così just might be his favorite piece of music in all of opera. Posting it for you, Operatoonity readers, seemed a fitting tribute to Così today.   

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Filed under Classic Opera, Classical Composers, Mozart, Opera and humor, opera firsts