Kiri Te Kanawa Sings Mozart: Pamina’s Aria from “The Magic Flute”

The second act of Mozart’s The Magic Flute contains one of opera’s most beautifully wrenching expressions of despair and lament. Pamina, the daughter of the demonic Queen of the Night, is hurt when Tamino will not speak to her. Not realizing that Tamino is bound by a vow of silence, she believes that he no longer loves her. Ach, ich fühl’s (“Ah, I can feel it”) is Pamina’s intimate, heartbroken soliloquy. It is set in G …

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Paganini Meets Rossini: “I Palpiti”

If the Top 40 popular song charts had existed in the early nineteenth century, they would have been dominated by the melodies of opera composers such as Gioachino Rossini. Today, popular music is distributed through recordings. In the nineteenth century, music distribution came in the form of arrangements and adaptations. Rock star virtuosos such as Niccolò Paganini and Franz Liszt drew on these melodies in the form of paraphrases. Paganini’s Variations on I …

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Remembering Edita Gruberová

Edita Gruberová, the Slovak coloratura soprano, passed away in Zurich on October 18. She was 74. Gruberová made her operatic debut in 1968 at Bratislava’s National Theatre, performing the role of Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. In 1970, she escaped communist Czechoslovakia and appeared at the Vienna State Opera as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She would remain closely associated with this role throughout her career. In …

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Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” Prelude to Act I: A Shifting Kaleidoscope of Color

Richard Wagner’s 1850 opera, Lohengrin, is based on medieval German legend. The fairy tale story involves the distressed Elsa (unfairly accused of murdering her brother, the rightful heir to the kingdom) and Lohengrin, a disguised Knight of the Holy Grail who comes to her aid on a boat drawn by a swan. Wagner’s Prelude to the first act of Lohengrin is a dreamlike kaleidoscope of orchestral color. It begins in the highest register of the …

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Norman Bailey Sings Wagner

Norman Bailey, the internationally renowned British operatic bass-baritone, passed away on September 15 at the age of 88. Bailey made his debut in 1959 at the Vienna Chamber Opera, performing the role of Tobias Mill in Rossini’s one-act opera, La cambiale di matrimonio. His association with the Sadler’s Wells Theatre (later the English National Opera) beginning in 1967, launched a major career. He was particularly associated with the operas of Wagner, including the title role …

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Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride” Overture: A Zany Tour de Force

Bedřich Smetana’s 1866 comic opera, The Bartered Bride, follows a classic and timeless plot line: Mařenka, a farmer’s daughter falls in love with Jeník, the son of a landowner. Despite the efforts of ambitious parents and a scheming marriage broker to derail the relationship, true love prevails. Set in a rustic Bohemian village, the opera is a celebration of Czech folk music. It erupts with spirited dance forms such as the polka and furiant. The three …

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Asmik Grigorian Sings Tchaikovsky

On April 14, the Lithuanian soprano, Asmik Grigorian, performed a live-streamed recital at Congress Hall in Vilnius. Although no audience could be admitted, Grigorian’s mother, Irena Milkevičiūtė was in attendance. Milkevičiūtė, a famous opera singer in her own right, celebrated her birthday on the same day. Asmik’s father was the Armenian tenor, Gegham Grigorian. Three Romances The program included three of Tchaikovsky’s Romances for voice and piano. All three songs are tinged with …

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