The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho discusses her opera “L’Amour de Loin” on NPR. Its premiere production at the Metropolitan Opera will air this Saturday on “Live From the Met in HD” and on Wisconsin Public Radio

December 9, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

This Saturday will see the “Live From The Met in HD” transmission to area cinemas of the popular 2002 opera “L’Amour de Loin” by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (below, in a photo by Maarit Kytoharju).

The show starts at 11:55 a.m. at the Point Cinema in Madison’s far west side and the Palace Cinema in Sun Prairie. The running time is three hours with an intermission. (It will also be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio starting at 1 p.m.) It will be sung in French with English supertitles.

kaija-saariaho-maarit-kytoharju-for-met

Based on the real-life story of the 12th-century French prince and troubadour Jaufré de Rudel, the opera will be the first one by a women composer to be done by the Metropolitan Opera in 113 years.

It must also be a landmark for Finland, since both the composer and the acclaimed conductor, Susanna Mälkki (below, in a photo by The New York Times), are Finnish. Mälkki is making her Met debut.

susanna-malkki-ny-times

And the cast sounds terrific: Bass-baritone Eric Own (below left, in a photo by Ken Howard) plays the troubadour.

eric-owens-plays-the-12th-century-french-prince-and-troubadour-jaufre-rudel-cr-ken-howard-met

Susanna Phillips (below right) plays his love Clémence, who hails from what is now Lebanon.

eric-owens-and-susanna-phillips-in-mets-%22lamour-de-loin%22-cr-ken-howard-for-met

It sounds like the production, by French-Canadian theater director Robert Lepage – who worked with the Cirque du Soleil and did the Met’s recent controversial “Ring” cycle by Richard Wagner, is appealing on several scores. (You can hear Robert Lepage and Kaija Saariaho discuss the production briefly in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Here is a link to more information about the opera and cast at the Met’s website:

http://www.metopera.org/Season/2016-17-Season/amour-de-loin-saariaho-tickets/

The appeal has been added to by a story that Jeff Lunden did for National Public Radio or NPR.

It is good background for seeing and hearing the production.

Here is a link. You can read the summary in print, and you can hear the longer broadcast version – which The Ear recommends — with the voices of the composer and others, by clicking on the big red button on the top left:

http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2016/12/03/503986298/half-of-humanity-has-something-to-say-composer-kaija-saariaho-on-her-met-debut

Do you know the opera “L’Amour de Loin”?

Have you seen or heard it already?

Whether you saw a previous Metropolitan Opera production or this one, let us know what you think of the opera as new music and a fetching love story. Will it “have legs” and survive long into the future?

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: Opera News magazine announces five honorees for 2012. Soprano Rachel Holmes to sing on Wisconsin Public Radio tomorrow.

August 22, 2012
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ALERT: Tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 23, on Wisconsin Public Radio‘s “The Midday,” hosted by Norman Gilliland, will feature live performances by another of  the 2012 Neale-Silva Young Artist Competition winners: soprano Rachel Holmes (below). Listen to 88.7 FM from noon to 1 p.m. Here is a link to her website with news, photos and audio clips: http://racheleveholmessoprano.com/live/

By Jacob Stockinger

The eighth annual awards by the editors of Opera News have been announced.

Here is the official press release:

2012 Opera News Awards Honorees Announced

New York, NY, – The editors of Opera News are pleased to announce the honorees for the 2012 Opera News Awards, paying tribute to five superb artists who have made an invaluable contribution to the art form: sopranos Mirella Freni and Dawn Upshaw; countertenor David Daniels; baritone Simon Keenlyside, and bass-baritone Eric Owens. 

The eighth annual Opera News Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at The Plaza in New York City. All the winners – and a host of the city’s cultural, civic, and social luminaries – will be present at the gala awards dinner, which will feature celebrity presenters speaking about the awardees and introducing video performance clips.

The official announcement of this year’s honorees appears in the September 2012 issue of Opera News, which is available this week and has Piotr Beczala on the cover. The Polish tenor performs this season at the Metropolitan Opera in Gounod’s “Faust” – his company role debut as the opera’s title character – and in a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. The September issue also offers the magazine’s annual preview of the year in opera.

The April 2012 issue of Opera News will contain tributes to the five awardees, all distinguished members of the international opera community.

Created in 2005, the Opera News Awards recognize five individuals each year for distinguished achievement in the field of opera. Proceeds from the gala evening on April 21 will benefit the education programs of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

For the third consecutive season, the Opera News Awards includes a special sweepstakes that will give a lucky winner round-trip air transportation for two to New York, provided by American Airlines, as well as a two-night stay at Trump International Hotel and Tower and VIP tickets to the Opera News Awards. No purchase is necessary to enter the sweepstakes; details are available at www.operanews.com/onawards and in the September issue.

The editors of the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Opera News have offered brief pre-publication accolades to this year’s award recipients. Online Editor Adam Wasserman salutes Mr. Daniels:

David Daniels (below) has established himself as more than a superbly elegant singer and an incisive actor; he is a trailblazer, who has redefined the emotional and musical range achievable by the male voice for both opera audiences and his fellow singers.”

Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll pays tribute to Ms. Freni (below):

Mirella Freni’s beauty, charm and poise – and the unfailing loveliness of her voice – made her one of opera’s most beloved sopranos during an active singing career of more than fifty years. She remains prima donna assoluta in the hearts of opera lovers everywhere.”

Features Editor Brian Kellow applauds Mr. Keenlyside:

Simon Keenlyside (below, as Mozart’s Don Giovanni) seems incapable of making a false move onstage. Not only does he have one of the most expressive baritone voices I’ve ever heard, he always seems to be completely in the moment dramatically. His work is never flashy, but it has an inner fire that few performers can match.”

Managing Editor Oussama Zahr extols the gifts of Mr. Owens:

“Bass-baritone Eric Owens (below, as Alberich in the Metropolitan Opera’s “Ring” cycle) has a soulful, capacious voice that he uses to imbue some of opera’s most mysterious and villainous characters with startling humanity. Everything he sings glows with his integrity as an artist.”

Senior Editor Louise Guinther praises Ms. Upshaw:

Dawn Upshaw (below) represents the highest ideals of pristine musicianship, intellectual curiosity, and artistic integrity. She brings a blend of all-American earnestness and instinctive passion to everything she does: Dawn Upshaw opens not only the ears of her audiences but their hearts and minds as well.”

Commenting further about the winners of the seventh annual Opera News Awards, Driscoll notes: “All five of this year’s honorees are blessed with the artistic integrity and expressive generosity that inspire everyone who cares about the art form. The editors of Opera News could not be more pleased to celebrate their extraordinary achievements, and look forward with the greatest enthusiasm to welcoming them to the Opera News Awards gala on April 21.”

Beyond offering the opportunity to pay tribute to the distinguished achievement of some of the leading artists of our time, the Opera News Awards gala dinner has become an important and much-anticipated date on the opera community’s calendar: a time for singers, artistic administrators, and managers – as well as social and political leaders who support opera – to come together in a spirit of camaraderie and celebration.

Opera News has been published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild since 1936; it has the largest circulation of any classical music magazine in the United States. The magazine, published monthly, is a winner of three ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in music journalism.

Previous Opera News Awards honorees:

2005: James Conlon, Régine Crespin, Plácido Domingo, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick

2006: Ben Heppner, James Levine, René Pape, Renata Scotto, Deborah Voigt

2007: Olga Borodina, Stephanie Blythe, Thomas Hampson, Leontyne Price, Julius Rudel

2008: John Adams, Natalie Dessay, Renée Fleming, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes

2009: Martina Arroyo, Joyce DiDonato, Gerald Finley, Philip Glass, Shirley Verrett

2010: Jonas Kaufmann, Riccardo Muti, Patricia Racette, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Bryn Terfel

2011:Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Peter Mattei, Karita Mattila, Anja Silja, Peter Sellars


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