Pearl Fishing

Well, I’m back from Vancouver, but on one of my last days there I saw a work-in-progress dance performance by local company 605 Collective at the Vancouver International Dance Festival. which I enjoyed, but after a mostly electronic soundtrack, I was surprised that the piece ended to the tune of Enrico Caruso singing this aria from Bizet‘s 1863 Pearl Fishers opera:

Probably the best known piece from this opera, but if you want to see the full picture, it’ll be receiving its first Met Opera production in 100 years in the forthcoming 2015-2016 season:

Tucker Up

In the centennial year of its namesake’s birth, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation‘s annual concert will be aired on PBS  tomorrow, Friday, at 9pm (check local listings).


Named for the famous American tenor, the Foundation awards a rising American opera singer each year, and the accompanying concert features them and a host of famous singers too, guaranteed to be an especially luminous bunch for Tucker’s 100th birthyear…  This year’s awardee is the mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard.

Tucker La Gioconda publicity shot, 1945

Richard Tucker in La Gioconda at the Met, 1945

Tucker made his Met debut in La Gioconda in 1945, where this excerpt was apparently recorded:


The initial impression, based on this New York Times review, was apparently somewhat mixed:

Special interest naturally centered in the company’s new tenor, Mr. Tucker, who had the misfortune to make his initial appearance in a formidable role too heavy for his essentially lyric type of voice. Nevertheless, he made a definitely favorable impression and was enthusiastically received by the large audience.

Rat Pack Rigoletto on PBS Tomorrow

Enrico Caruso in Rigoletto, 1903

Enrico Caruso in The Met’s Rigoletto, 1903, photo by Aimé Dupont

This new, Las Vegas-set Met Opera production of Verdi‘s 1851 opera Rigoletto is a far cry from earlier Met productions, including the 1903 season-opener where celebrated Italian tenor Enrico Caruso made his house debut as the Duke of Mantua.  It was an important debut, so the Met archives have a whole article devoted to it, with lots of fun anecdotes and primary documents.


Did you know there have been 9 different productions of Rigoletto at the Met?  Just one of the fun (if you’re me, at least) things you can learn on The Met’s online archives, which I am learning to love.  New productions are very well-documented, with plenty of production and rehearsal photos.

Rigoletto at the Met in 2012

Met Rigoletto 2012, photo by Ken Howard, copyright Metropolitan Opera

PBS will show the Met Opera‘s new production of Rigoletto tomorrow at 9 pm, with a repeat airing on Sunday at 12:30 in New York.  Check your local listings.

Questa o Quella, Rigoletto or Doubt

Verdi‘s Rigoletto is getting a snazzy updated production at the Met Opera soon (just look at this moody, mysterious TV spot), and tonight the director Michael Mayer and set designer Christine Jones will discuss their process at the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series, with the singers performing excerpts too.

In past installments, these Works & Process events have been live-streamed on their UStream, so I suspect that may happen tonight too?  But I’m not seeing any explicit mention of it…   Well, tune in here at 7:30 tonight just to be sure!

If that doesn’t work out, my consolation gift is the full video of last season’s Works & Process event on Douglas J. Cuomo‘s Doubt, with libretto by original playwright John Patrick Shanley, set to premiere at Minnesota Opera at the end of the month.  The New York Times just had a feature article on it too, mainly from Shanley‘s perspective, so interesting supplementary reading.

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…


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!)

Britten. Pears. Michelangelo.

Continuing with the LGBT History Month theme today, here is a performance uniting composer Benjamin Britten with his life partner, the tenor Peter Pears performing Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (from Tokyo in 1956!).

Here’s the link to Part 2.  The Foundation in charge of Britten’s legacy is actually called The Britten-Pears Foundation, showing how closely their life work and legacies are linked.

If it’s more Britten you’re looking for, remember you can hear his spooky chamber opera The Turn of the Screw in its entirety here.