Ancient Roman Holiday

Hadrian & Antinous brooch, Metropolitan Museum

Mid-18th Century brooch of Hadrian & Antinous, from the Metropolitan Museum

Operamission, a small New York opera company that I knew of mostly for their performances of rarer Handel operas, is workshopping a brand new opera this season, Antinous and Hadrian.

Divided into three chunks, it’s being presented at three separate, $10 events.  I just learned of it yesterday, so we missed the first one, but the second is tonight at 7pm, the third on Saturday.  Tickets here!

Love Scene from the opera ANTINOUS AND HADRIAN from operamission on Vimeo.

From composer Clint Borzoni, an alum of programs from American Opera Projects and American Lyric Theater, the opera tells the story of Hadrian, Roman emperor from 117 to 138 AD, and his relationship with the young Antinous.  (Gotta love those same-sex lovin’ Romans!)  After Antinous’ death, Hadrian had him exalted to the level of deity, accounting for much of the contemporary art of him…  The duet above is sung by bass Matthew Curran (Hadrian) and tenor Tommy Wazelle (Antinous).

I’m intrigued by some of the other projects from Borzoni, including song cycles, but especially his one-act opera Margot Alone in the Light, based on a Ray Bradbury story…  And what do you know, Operamission has it in full on their YouTube channel

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpDdB442mIY&w=350&h=300]

Get your $10 tickets here for tonight and Saturday’s performances of Antinous and Hadrian!

Incoronation Week

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_isL0E-4TsQ&w=350&h=300]

Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble in New York, dedicated to giving student performers a bridge from school to professional productions, is presenting Claudio Monteverdi‘s 1643 opera L’incoronazione di Poppea this week through Saturday.

Above you can see Philippe JarouskkyDanielle de Niese duetting it up in a production from the Teatro Real Madrid.  And at this other, full length YouTube video, you can see a 1993 performance from the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Italy, including Anna Caterina Antonacci and Jennifer Larmore.  Enjoy it while it lasts!

Romanian Opera Power Couple

pictures of Angela Gheorghiu & Cezar Ouatu

Angela Gheorghiu & Cezar Ouatu

Remember when I ironically posted about EuroVision and their crazy Romanian vampire countertenor?  Well joke’s on me, cuz Florin Cezar Ouatu (aka Cezar the Voice) has entrenched himself into the operatic world by somehow becoming Mr. Gheorghiu.  Yeah, that Gheorghiu.

Internationally renowned, diva-tastic Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu has apparently been a champion of Cezar‘s since the start, introducing him on Romanian TV back in December of 2012:

And now that they’re the out & proud new Romanian opera power couple, they went back on Romanian TV to sing La Barcarolle, famous duet from Offenbach‘s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, with the traditionally mezzo part taken on by Cezar.

Hats off to you Cezar, you’re really set for life now.

Peruvian Perricholi

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

Tonight and Saturday are your last chances to see the final opera in New York City Opera‘s current season, Offenbach‘s 1868 operetta La Périchole at New York City Center.

The story is inspired by the real-life 17th century Peruvian singer (and mistress to the Viceroy) Micaela Villegas.  So in addition to opulent costumes like the one above, costume designer Suzanne Fabry also got to design some altiplano cholita costumes…

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

These designs come from La Monnaie‘s super entertaining digital archives, but I’ll admit that my original motivation for the “fashion” tag was Nana Mouskouri‘s awesome get-up in her duet with Thierry Le Luron.  Oh man, 1960s French variety shows, yes please.

NYCO and director Christopher Alden‘s production leans a little more modern (and Mexican), but it looks like a riot!

“You Is My Woman Now”? Uh, Proprietary Much?

Here’s an operatic companion Valentine’s Day post: the love duet from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, seen in a 1993 televised production directed by Trevor Nunn, with Cynthia Haymon as Bess and Willard White as Porgy.

This TV production was actually based on Nunn‘s 1986 stage production for the Glyndebourne Festival.  Not sure how romantic it is necessarily, but I guess I’m a cynic.  Give me 1950’s romance comics any day.

This is also my belated and paltry first post for Black History Month, which I have been totally slacking on!  I’ll step my game back up folks, sorry about that.

I’M FAMOUS.

So my comics-savvy cousin on Facebook pointed out that my hourly comics were included on a list of Hourly Comics up on the Comics Reporter.  How did this happen?  Why am I next to actually talented people?  It’s a mystery, but I’m not complaining.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DLbbtkTjF8&w=350&h=300]

This duet from Purcell‘s Dido & Aeneas made a cameo during my hourly comics’ shower scene, so thought I could wrangle a combo comics/opera post from this…  Thank you for believing in me America!

Verdi Bicentennial the BBC Way

As I’ve mentioned many a time, this opera season marks the 200th birthday of Italian stallion Giuseppe Verdi, so opera houses all over the world are doing even more Verdi than they’d normally do, as well as reaching back for more obscure pieces.

BBC Radio 3 is going all out too, saying they’re going to stream every Verdi opera ever for a week each.  Right now their Verdi 200 includes three more off-the-beaten-path operas: 1857’s Simon Boccanegra has become a wider hit in recent years, the earlier 1843 I Lombardi, and the 1854 French grand opéra style I Vespri Siciliani.  (The distinct, strict traditions of French vs. Italian opera are really fascinating, but interesting to see that operas and composers could cross over too…)  Tomorrow, Verdi classic Il Trovatore gets added to the list too.

I’m wondering if LA Opera‘s production of the obscure Il Due Foscari will make it to BBC…  Speaking of LA Opera, if you’re a nerd like me who waits on the edge of their seat for new opera season announcements, LA just announced their 2013/2014 season, including some more Verdi (and a Britten too, for his centennial); pretty ahead of the curve, LA!

Bernstein Centennial forthcoming

I’ve repeatedly mentioned how this year has been a big one for operatic anniversaries;  bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner and a centennial for Britten (born on St. Cecelia‘s Day, appropriately enough!).  Well, some people are gearing up for another centennial five years in advance…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgXMxhMhYm4&w=350&h=300]

Leonard Bernstein was born in 1918, and the Leonard Bernstein Office in New York is now fielding submissions for a logo for his centennial.  Information on competition guidelines are here, and the last day to submit is January 31st, 2013.  Any creative followers out there get cracking!  And definitely share your submissions with us!

(PS: If you came through Facebook, the photo of Bernstein appearing in that status update is by Jack Mitchell; credit where it’s due!)

Mission to Mission

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g7Yr52t12w&w=350&h=300]

Cecilia Bartoli is a world-renowned mezzo-soprano who’s also a big champion of musical archaeology, digging through and rediscovering forgotten Baroque opera, as evidenced by her 2009 compilation CD Sacrificium, covering music for castrati by a range of more obscure composers.

Her latest release, Mission, covers the music of one composer, Agostino Steffani, and wraps the package up in a deeper investigation of the man behind the music, investigating his roles as an ecclesiastic and diplomat.  In fact, the CD is being released with a book exploring this history and even inspired a mystery novel to be released concurrently!  Bartoli obviously inspires a lot of confidence in the music industry…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDtxRzosEpw&w=350&h=300]

(You can see how they’re pushing the history in this trailer for the CD.)

Les Desmoiselles de Bayamo

88 years ago today both my grandmothers were born across the street from each other in Bayamo, Cuba.  They were naturally fast friends and heck, two daughters from one grandmother married two sons from the other!  Though only one of my grandmothers has made it to 88, it’s always nice to remember the two as the sort of twins they were…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uopjMuYY3F8&w=350&h=300]

And speaking of twins, here’s the opening, supremely catchy, song from the French movie musical Les Desmoiselles de Rochefort, directed by Jacques Demy with music by Michel Legrand, starring Catherine DeNeuve and Françoise Dorléac.