From February, 2011

Gershwin’s Folk Opera: Porgy and Bess

I’ll be reviewing the Atlanta Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess in a week and have posted a rendition of one of the opera’s hits, “Summertime.”  Porgy and Bess premiered on Broadway in 1935, but it wasn’t until Houston Grand Opera produced it in 1976 that it began to be recognized as opera.  Gershwin’s opus is ultimately a staged, fully-sung opera incorporating standard operatic conventions such as recitatives, arias, and musical motives that recur throughout the drama.

Vox Populi and the Houston Grand Opera

Anthony Freud is the new General Director of Houston Grand Opera and believes that his opera company is essentially a cultural services company.  His mission goes beyond selling tickets to the mainstage productions and education outreach (opera camps, opera in schools, preschool opera programs).  Freud has developed a program called Song of Houston in which he co-commissions and produces operas about the various ethnic groups that live in Houston, i.e. vox populi works.  He’s hoping these works will resonate with African, Central American, Indian, Mexican, Pakistani, Soviet-era Jewish and Vietnamese immigrants. All this is an attempt to help opera shed its “snooty image” according to Wall Street…

Cast Change for Upcoming Wagner Operas at the Met

The Metropolitan Opera’s new “Ring” cycle has lost its Siegfried. Ben Heppner, one of the best Wagnerian tenors around, withdrew from performances of the last two installments of the cycle, “Siegfried” and “Gotterdammerung,” next season. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/ben-heppner-drops-out-of-the-mets-ring/ Heppner is a Heldentenor (heroic tenor) – as termed by the German Theatre Fach System –  and has the ability to sing the very taxing roles that Wagner composed for the tenor voice.  The German Fach System further categorizes the main voice classifications of soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone,  and bass by vocal and dramatic demands required by certain opera roles.  In determining a singer’s fach one must…

Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – Southeast Regional Finals

I attended the Southeast Regional Finals of the Met Auditions in Atlanta, GA today.  Fifteen singers ranging in age from 20-29 competed, having prepared five arias that had been practiced and polished.  Today’s winner will compete in the NYC semi-finals on March 6, 2011.  In 1954 the Metropolitan Opera founded its Council auditions in order to 1) discover exceptional young talent, 2) provide a venue for young opera singers throughout the U.S. to be heard by Met representatives and assist in their development, and 3) search for new talent for the Met and the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. The judges…