Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wagner's "Das Rheingold" Met Saturday Matinee Broadcast on April 2

St. Louis Public Radio will carry the Met Opera broadcast of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold on their HD channel, KWMU-3 beginning at 12 noon. Approximate running time 2 hours, 45 minutes.

The Met web site says:
Two unparalleled artists join forces to create a groundbreaking new Ring for the Met: Maestro James Levine and director Robert Lepage. “The Ring is not just a story or a series of operas, it’s a cosmos,” says Lepage (La Damnation de Faust), who brings cutting-edge technology and his own visionary imagination to the world’s greatest theatrical journey. Bryn Terfel (pictured above), singing his first, much-anticipated Met Wotan, leads the cast in Das Rheingold, the Ring’s first installment. Levine, who has conducted every complete cycle of Wagner’s masterpiece performed by the Met since 1989, says, “The Ring is one of those works of art that you think you know, but every time you return to it, you find all kinds of brilliant moments that hadn’t struck you with the same force before.” “The Ring is about change,” director Lepage says. “I try to be extremely respectful of Wagner’s storytelling, but in a very modern context. We’re trying to see how in our day and age we can tell this classical story in the most complete way.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Natalie Dessay Stars in "Lucia di Lammermoor" on Saturday, March 19, Met Matinee Broadcast

St. Louis Public Radio will carry the Met Opera broadcast of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor on their HD channel, KWMU-3 beginning at 12 noon. Approximate running time 3 hours, 40 minutes, with intermissions at approximately 12:40 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

The Met web site says, "Natalie Dessay returns to her triumphant portrayal of the fragile heroine in the Met’s hit production. Also starring Joseph Calleja."

Zachary Woolfe writes in the the New York Times:
In this revival of Mary Zimmerman’s grayly atmospheric production, there is an empty space where Lucia ought to be. Not that there’s not a soprano onstage, and a redoubtable one, in Ms. Dessay, returning to the company after a two-year absence. Her cool voice has thinned a bit, but it still impresses in coloratura and rises to the score’s climactic moments. The issue is not the voice so much as what that voice should serve: the character.

Ms. Dessay and Ms. Zimmerman have clearly, carefully considered every motion (the soprano’s physical performance Thursday was essentially identical to the one she gave in 2007, when the production was new) and the result is a Lucia almost entirely blank. The main consideration seems to have been avoiding going over the top, being too “operatic.” But in this version, Lucia —- that supremely expressive Romantic character, the one who weeps, swoons, trembles and is often, as the libretto describes, simply “beside herself with misery and fear” in a work dominated by passions and blood —- is so internal that the audience perceives her only as indifferent and detached.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" Opens This Weekend

Winter Opera St. Louis continues its season this weekend with Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana. Witness the passionate Sicilian drama of Santuzza, who is betrayed by her lover Turiddu. Soaring choruses, heartrending arias, dramatic duets and a famous orchestral Intermezzo are just a few reasons to see this masterpiece which ushered in the operatic genre of verismo.

Soprano Sarah Price, recent winner of the St. Louis District Metropolitan Opera Auditions, sings Santuzza. Tenor Gary Seydell, last seen as Canio in I Pagliacci, returns to sing the role of Turiddu. Baritone Eric McCluskey sings the role of Alfio. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Petillot sings the role of Mamma Lucia. Recently seen as Flora in La Traviata, Soprano Sarah Gottman sings the role of Lola.

Ms. Price, Mr. McCluskey and Ms. Petillot all make their Winter Opera Debut.

Performances take place at St. Ambrose Church on the Hill (5130 Wilson Ave) this weekend: Saturday March 12th at 8pm and Sunday, March 13th at 5pm.

Tickets are available for $30, $25 and $20. Dinner packages available from Dominic's Restaurant. To purchase tickets, dinner packages and more, call 314.865.0038 or visit

Thursday, March 10, 2011

René Pape Stars in "Boris Godunov" on Met Saturday Matinee Broadcast March 12

St. Louis Public Radio will carry the Met Opera broadcast of Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov on their HD channel, KWMU-3 beginning at 11 a.m. Please note the earlier than usual start time. Approximate running time 4 hours, 15 minutes, with intermissions at approximately 12:45 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

The Met Opera website says:
Bass René Pape takes on one of the greatest roles in a production by Stephen Wadsworth. Valery Gergiev conducts Mussorgsky’s soulful spectacle, which captures the suffering and ambition of a nation. Aleksandrs Antonenko, Vladimir Ognovenko, and Ekaterina Semenchuk lead the huge cast in a work that is also a breathtaking showcase for the Met’s formidable chorus.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tickets for Union Avenue Opera's 17th Festival Season Now On Sale

Tickets for Union Avenue Opera's 17th Festival Season are now on sale. The 2011 summer season opens with Giacomo Puccini's last opera Turandot, followed by Gioacchino Rossini's effervescent comedy La Cenerentola ("Cinderella") and the Midwestern Premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. UAO will once again present Gian Carlo Menotti's holiday classic Amahl and the Night Visitors in December.

Union Avenue Opera offers Season Tickets in the following packages: 4 Operas (summer productions + Amahl) or 3 Operas (summer productions only). Single Tickets (ranging $30-$52) are also available. To purchase tickets, call the UAO Box Office at 314.361.2881 or visit the company's website.

Be sure to revisit Operatic Saint Louis in the coming months for further news on the upcoming season at Union Avenue Opera.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rene Fleming and Six Tenors in Rossini's "Armida" on Met Saturday Matinee Broadcast

St. Louis Public Radio will carry the Met Opera broadcast of Gioachino Rossini's Armida on their HD channel, KWMU-3 beginning at 12 noon. Approximate running time 3 hours, 30 minutes, with intermissions at approximately 1:10 pm and 2:20 p.m.

The Met says, "Renée Fleming revisits Rossini’s powerful but conflicted sorceress in the Met’s new production directed by Tony Award® winner Mary Zimmerman. Lawrence Brownlee is Rinaldo, the object of Armida’s love and revenge."

In a less-than-rapturous review in the February 20, 2011, New York Times, Zachary Woolfe writes:
With a voice of reduced agility, size and power, Ms. Fleming now paces herself cautiously, simplifying or dodging many of the coloratura fireworks. In the first and second acts she limits her singing in full voice, clearly saving herself for Act III, in which Rossini ingeniously relaxes the ornamentation as Armida’s powers disappear, and she is left a mere woman. Here, the line lyrical and the range congenial, Ms. Fleming is finally persuasive.

But caution isn’t what you want in an Armida, and singing the opera like a one-act misses Act I’s glittering runs and the great Act II aria “D’amore al dolce impero,” moments that establish the commanding and loving sides of this complex character. Ms. Fleming acts naturally, but in this repertory acting and singing are even more unified than elsewhere in opera. Since she doesn’t seduce or dazzle — do what Rossini has built into the music — her later humiliation and rage lose their impact, and the character loses its depth.

Mary Zimmerman’s wanly Neo-Classical production doesn’t help locate the depths of an opera about intense emotions and the possibilities and limits of illusion. Instead of passion or fantasy, Ms. Zimmerman tries cuteness: animatronic insects, demons in tutus, a winsome girl personifying love.

While adorable may suffice for the frolics in Armida’s enchanted garden, when the opera takes on more heart-wrenching dimensions, the production is stumped. Ms. Zimmerman seems more interested in winking at operatic style —- with antiqued footlights, Italianized placards reading “Ballo” and “Fine,” the conceit that Armida is reading her aria from sheet music -— than in believing in its complexities.

Riccardo Frizza conducted sluggishly, and while the opera features no fewer than six tenors, only Lawrence Brownlee, as Armida’s lover, Rinaldo, sang with freedom and fervor. His Act III solo was the highlight of the evening, a reminder of the infectious excitement Rossini makes possible, if only you do what he tells you.

Photo above from Parerre Boxm, who say:
“Renee Fleming and Timothy Jessell arrive for the formal artist’s dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors at the United States Department of State December 4, 2010 in Washington, D.C.”