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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Remembering Giuseppe Giacomini

Giuseppe Giacomini, the celebrated Italian dramatic tenor, passed away on Wednesday. He was 80. Giacomini, known as Bepi” among his fans, made his professional debut in 1966 in Vercelli, performing the role of Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. He went on to appear on the stages of the world’s leading opera houses. Additionally, Giacomini performed for numerous world leaders and for the opening of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. He continued to …

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Mendelssohn’s “The Marriage of Camacho” Overture: Music for a Fleeting Opera

Felix Mendelssohn was 15 when he began work on the two-act comic opera, Die Hochzeit des Camacho (“The Marriage of Camacho”) in 1824. The young composer had already written four previous singspiele operas which received private family performances. The Marriage of Camacho, based on an episode from Cervantes’ Don Quixote, was premiered at the Berlin Schauspielhaus on April 29, 1827. Although the work was well-received by the audience, it was met with a hostile reviews. Mendelssohn was …

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Leontyne Price: Canzone di Doretta from Puccini’s “La Rondine”

Giacomo Puccini’s 1917 opera, La Rondine (“The Swallow”), tells the story of Magda, a Parisian courtesan who falls in love with the handsome young Ruggero. Ultimately, Magda is haunted by her past and leaves Ruggero, returning to her old life like a swallow returning to the nest. The opera’s most famous aria, Chi il bel sogno di Doretta, comes in the first act. At a party, the poet Prunier affirms the power of romantic love. …

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