The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s organ concert on Tuesday night features two male singers in music from oratorios and operas

February 17, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

This coming week, the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will present  organist Samuel Hutchison (below) and acclaimed singers Andrew Bidlack and Kyle Ketelsen performing as a trio in vocal and instrumental music from oratorios and operas.

Sam Hutchison with organ (c) JoeDeMaio

The concert is Tuesday night, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center, 201 State Street.

Principal Organist and Curator for the Madison Symphony Orchestra Samuel Hutchison joins forces with two outstanding singers in the first half to perform a program of favorite arias and overtures from Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

Opera will be the focus of the second half, featuring arias and selections from Bizet’s Carmen, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Gounod’s Faust.

For the full program, go to: http://www.madisonsymphony.org/organopera

Featured by Opera News as one of their top 25 brilliant young artists, tenor Andrew Bidlack (below) — who is replacing David Portillo — makes his debut in Overture Hall following performances at The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Welsh National Opera and London’s Covent Garden.

andrew-bidlack-vertical

Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen (below, in a photo by Dario Acosta), who lives in nearby Sun Prairie, has sung with major opera companies throughout the world including The Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the State Opera of Berlin. He is praised for his vibrant stage presence and his distinctive vocalism.

In the YouTube video at the bottom, you can hear Kyle Ketelsen sing the role of Don Escamillo in a Barcelona, Spain, production of Bizet’s “Carmen.” He is singing the same role in the Metropolitan Opera’s current production of “Carmen.”

Kyle Ketelsen face shot 1 Dario Acosta

General Admission for each Overture Concert Organ performance is $20. Tickets can be purchased at madisonsymphony.org/organopera, (608) 258-4141 or the Overture Center Box Office.

Student Rush tickets can be purchased in person on the day of the concert at the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street. Students must show a valid student ID and can receive up to two $10 tickets.

This performance is sponsored by the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.

With a gift from Pleasant T. Rowland, the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) commissioned the Overture Concert Organ, which is the stunning backdrop of all MSO concerts.

Overture Concert Organ overview


Classical music: The Metropolitan Opera names Yannick Nézet-Séguin as its next music director to succeed James Levine.

June 3, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

It’s official.

The relatively young, 41-year-old Montreal native and French-Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin (below) has been named by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to be its next music director.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin close up

The appointment comes just weeks after the retirement of the legendary James Levine, who served for 40 years.

Nézet-Séguin is currently the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he will remain until 2026. He officially starts his new post at The Met in the 2020-21 season and will serve as interim music director until then.

Here is the story from Opera News:

http://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2016/6/News/Yannick_Nezet-Seguin_Met_Music_Director.html

And here is a long piece about the conductor that appeared in the New York Times. The Ear linked to it in a previous post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/classical-music-should-yannick-nezet-seguin-be-the-metropolitan-operas-next-music-director-here-are-the-pros-and-cons/

 


Classical music: Here is music to greet Fall, which arrives today. Plus, up-and-coming coloratura soprano Brenda Rae returns to her alma mater UW-Madison from this Friday through Sunday to raise money for University Opera.

September 23, 2015
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ALERT: Autumn is here. The Fall equinox arrives today at 3:31 a.m. CDT. If you are looking for some appropriate music to listen to, here is a good selection — complete with audio samples – from Minnesota Public Radio:

http://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2014/09/23/classical-music-for-fall-autumn

Plus: The long-term weather prediction is for a warm Fall , according to the Web site Accuweather. Here is a link:

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/warmth-to-continue-in-midwest/52475030

By Jacob Stockinger

Attention all opera fans!

Here is a press release for you from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music, written by concert manager and publicity director Kathy Esposito:

“Gazing at herself in a bewitched mirror, she is obsessed with her radiant beauty; she caresses her own face and simpers at an imagined lover.”

“That would be the Appleton, Wisconsin coloratura soprano Brenda Rae (below) in the Seattle Opera’s February production of George Frideric Handel’s “Semele,” in which she was described by Opera News as “sensual,” “dazzling” and “moving.” (You can see a clip in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Soprano Brenda Rae

Brenda will be on the UW-Madison campus September 25-27 as part of a larger three-day fund drive to put University Opera -– which has existed at UW-Madison for 57 years, but which relies mostly on ticket sales and donations to finance productions -– on a secure financial footing.

For a more detailed biography of Benda Rae, go to:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/soprano-brenda-rae-with-the-uw-symphony-orchestra/

Here is a link to a story about Brenda Rae and the University Opera written  by Gayle Worland in The Wisconsin State Journal:

http://host.madison.com/entertainment/music/dollars-bring-new-era-to-university-opera/article_677707d4-fbd6-5dfd-acf6-f50525ae73c4.html

On Friday, there will be a FREE and PUBLIC master class in Music Hall from 5 to 7 p.m.

On Saturday, two special donor events are planned: the first, a VIP dress rehearsal followed by a private University Club reception for event sponsors.

For more about level of sponsorship and the fundraising drive visit:

https://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com

And on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, a ticketed public concert ($25 for adults) will feature Brenda Rae singing Reinhold Gliere’s rarely heard Concerto for Coloratura Soprano, accompanied by the UW Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Smith. Also on the program are scenes and an aria from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “La Traviata” and “Symphonic Dances” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The two events are part of a fund-raising drive that honors opera alumna Karen K. Bishop, who passed away in January. We hope you will consider becoming a supporter of University Opera by sponsoring this event and attending one or more performances.


Classical music: What is the state of opera today? NPR’s outstanding “Deceptive Cadence” blog holds a discussion with critics, managers and artists.

September 8, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Taking its cue from a recent story, in the newest issue of Opera News, about the state of opera today, NPR’s outstanding classical music blogDeceptive Cadence” recently hosted a roundtable discussion that included journalists, critics and singers.

Excellent points were made in this intelligent and perceptive discussion that also focused on new operas and young singers (below in a photo by James Salzano for Opera News) including (from leftt): Kate Lindsey, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Luca Pisaroni, Ailyn Perez and Michael Christie.

Here is a link:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/08/16/158889694/checking-opera-s-pulse-a-conversation-about-the-state-of-the-art

What do you think of the health of opera today?

What do you think about new operas?

What do you think about new performers and your favorites among them?

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


Classical music: Why are critics picking on the Metropolitan Opera and its general director Peter Gelb, and why is Gelb picking on the critics? Plus the National Memorial Day concert airs tonight on PBS.

May 27, 2012
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AN ALERT: Remember to remember. The National Memorial Day Concert, broadcast live from the west lawn of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., will air tonight on PBS. There won’t be a lot of classical music on the program, but the National Symphony Orchestra will perform. And the broadcast of the concert will be repeated tomorrow night on many PBS channels. What classical music would you like them to perform and do you think it appropriate to remember veterans and mark Memorial Day?

By Jacob Stockinger

In some important ways, this has been a very good year for the Metropolitan Opera’s general director Peter Gelb (below).

He raised a record amount of money for the world’s most famous opera house, and his Met Live in HD broadcasts continue to expand and now reach thousands of movie theaters around the world.

Yet especially when it comes to Robert Lepage’s new production of Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, Gelb has still come in for harsh words from such celebrated critics as Alex Ross of The New Yorker magazine, Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times and Anne Midgette of The Washington Post.

Now, it seems, Opera News has joined the fray.

And Gelb tried fighting back.

Here is link to a roundup of the drama, that latest act, that is threatening to turn the Metropolitan Opera (below) in an opera itself.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/05/23/153512997/an-online-debate-of-operatic-intensity-the-met-and-its-critics

But is the Met’s story, and Gelb’s, a comic opera or tragic opera? That is the question.

What do you think?

Do you share the criticism of Gelb?


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