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Showing posts from July, 2010

Review: Madama Butterfly Met In HD Encore

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Just days after having the wonderful opportunity to see Ben Heppner in recital in Stratford I was offered a free ticket to attend an encore screening of the Met's 2009-2010 production of MadamaButterly. Though the production was certainly not flawless, I was quite impressed by what I saw.Anthony Minghella crafted the beautiful production (more on that later) Puccini’s opera. I will start with my general impressions, and then review some roles/places specifically.

The roles:
Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) - Patricia Racette
B. F. Pinkerton - Marcello Giordani
Maria Zifchak - Suzuki
Dwayne Croft - Sharpless

The big theme that I found while viewing this production was the "slow getting started" feel. I will make the caveat upfront that part of this could well be attributed to the writing of Puccini, Luigi Illica, or Giuseppe Giacosa (the two librettists). Though of course all opera lovers are familiar with MadamaButterfly, I will confess that I have not seen or listened to a…

A Portrait of Ben Heppner: Review

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This review is going to be interested for a couple of reasons. First of all - I have pictures!! Second, it's the first review I'll have done about something I've actually witnessed. Finally, a lot of the reviewing I plan to leave to someone else, as it turns out, because they say almost exactly what I would have.

So first off, I'll explain the event. This is part of a tour Ben Heppner is doing of 4 locations (which will be listed on the program photo later). We were lucky in some ways as the location here was a very small church and quite an intimate venue. This allowed both audience members and performers to relax and feel a lighthearted connection that would have been difficult to establish in a larger hall. Heppner's Repertoire was interesting, consisting of Six Songs, Op. 48 by Edvard Grieg, 7 songs by Jean Sibelius, and 6 songs by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Finally, Heppner finished the program with opera arias he announced. These were "O souverain, o jug…

Sacrificium: The Art of the Castrati (A Cinematographic Vision by Olivier Simonnet) Review

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Ah! Now, as I return to posting regularly, I thought I would do something I have long intended to do (as mentioned in an earlier post). I will be reviewing the DVD based on Cecilia Bartoli's popular album Sacrificium. I would have reviewed the album, but it came out long before my blog began. This DVD is both more recent, and, I think, more interesting.

The idea to make a concert DVD not just in any concert venue (though many of the classical music and opera venues are beautiful in their own right) but in the breathtaking Royal Palace of Caserta was brilliant. The location is simply stunning. Whether the place Bartoli sings is the exquisite Baroque theatre within the palace, in its rooms (near the windows), within the grand foyer, on its stairs, or among the grand cedars of the garden, each location lends itself to the particular aria being performed and provides a stunning backdrop.

The setting is not the only part of the DVD that is well crafted visually. The outfits are period…

Where the Fach Did They Go?

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A fellow voice major here at Lawrence caused me to recall an interesting trend in vocal classification among singers over the past century.  Theoretically, beyond Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, (the rare) Alto, Baritone, and Bass, voice types are governed by fächer a term hailing from Germany that describes a group of different fach(s) that further divide these voice types. Note that there are other terms that are used in countries that don't speak German, but by far fach is the most common word used to describe the idea. Rather than list fächer here, as that isn't the point of this article, I will direct you to look them up here on Wikipedia (note this list is not entirely accurate, as there are some omissions (such as absence of the leggiero tenor) and the terms are not clearly defined even among experts).


All the great singers that opera lovers enjoy thinking about and listening to should technically be able to be classified by these fächer. However, save for a few exceptions (whi…