Romeo et Juliette, live from the MET in HD

“Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage”…. “Shakespeare is Universal”  – Harold Bloom

This Saturday, January 21, we will have our second live broadcast of the Met of 2017, in the wonderful AUDITORIUM MATEO HERRERA in Leon City, with Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette” and with a terrific cast that includes Diana Damrau, Vittorio Grigolo and Mikhail Petrenko and with Maestro Gianandrea Noseda conducting.

Romeo et Juliette opened the season on New Year’s Eve,  and again with Diana Damrau and Maestro Gianandrea Noseda conducting (just like last year’s “The Pearl Fishers”)

This is the second live in HD broadcast from the MET of  Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, the first one was with Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna in the leading roles back in 2007. Now this new performance with Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo is a new production by Bartlett Sher.

ROMEO AND JULIETTE BEFORE SHAKESPEARE:

Luigi Da Porto, Masuccio Salernitano, Matteo Bandello, Arthur Brooke and  Pierre Boaistuau.

As we know the first origins of this famous tragic love story come from “Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti” by Luigi Da Porto and it was published in 1531 in Venice.  It is known that Luigi Da Porto was inspired by “Mariotto and Ganozza” by Masuccio Salernitano. Matteo Bandello is another famous writer in which Shakespeare got inspired. Matteo Bandello’s novella of “Romeo and Juliet” and his other novellas inspired many of Shakespeare’s works, like for example, “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Twelfth Night”.  Arthur Brooke’s English translation of Bandello’s work,  “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet” is also considered as one of the most important works that inspired Shakespeare.    We also have to mention the French version of Pierre Boaistuau “Histoire troisieme de deux Amants, don’t l’un mourut de venin, l’autre de tristesse”.

ROMEO ET JULIETTE IN OPERA AND MUSIC AND DANCE

Gounod’s opera is not the only Operatic or musical adaptation of Roméo et Juliette, first we had “Giulietta e Romeo” by Zingarelli,  Bellini’s “I Capuleti e i Montecchi”,  Hector Berlioz’s  “Symphonie dramatique: Roméo et Juliette” with soloists, chorus and orchestra, later Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy of Roméo et Juliette.  And in Ballet, we have Prokofiev’s marvelous “Roméo et Juliette”.    And it is impossible not to mention Bernstein’s musical adaptation “West side Story”.

SHAKESPEARE AND THE OPERA AND MUSIC

“If music be the food of love, play on”….. William Shakespeare…..

Is no secret that many works of the bard of Avon, William Shakespeare have been adapted for the theater, films, television and mini series and of course, The Opera.  Goethe, Shakespeare and Pushkin (are also in other cases Victor Hugo, Schiller and Beaumarchais)  are probably the authors in which their literary works had more Operatic adaptations than any other author. There are many, many operatic versions of Shakespeare’s plays and it is impossible to mention all but I will name just a few: Along in the many famous Opera adaptations of Shakespeare’s works are Henry Purcell’s “The Fairy-Queen”, based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Verdi’s “Macbeth” in which we had the pleasure of watching two HDs from the Met (one in 2007 and the second recently in 2014) and with the extraordinary Serbian Baritone Zeljko Lucic in the title role in the both HD performances, Verdi’s “Otello”, which is considered as one of the greatest masterpieces ever in history of Opera and in which we had two live in HD broadcasts, first in 2012 with the late Tenor Johan Botha and Renée Fleming  and later in 2015 with Aleksandrs Antonenko as Otello,  Zeljko Lucic as Iago and Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona.  Verdi’s final masterpiece “Falstaff” in which we also had a live in HD performance from the MET back in 2013 (Falstaff is of course, based on the Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV). Also the recent Met in HD performance of “The Enchanted Island”, with Plácido Domingo, was based on “The Tempest”.  Another interesting mention is Rossini’s “Otello” which is different from Shakespeare’s play and Verdi’s Operatic version.  Berlioz, who, as we know has a very personal interesting story and also an admiration for Shakespeare also composed, (Besides of the already mentioned “Symphonie dramatique Romeo et Juliette)  “Béatrice et Bénédict”, based on “Much ado About Nothing” and also his choral work “Tristia” (Related to Hamlet) and the overture for “King Lear” (Le Roi Lear).  Also a few years ago, we had the pleasure of watching the HD broadcast from the MET in 2010 of the operatic version of “Hamlet”, by Ambroise Thomas and with Simon Keenlyside in the leading role.  Richard Wagner, just like Berlioz and Liszt, which all of them had an obsession with both Goethe and Shakespeare, composed “Das Liebesverbot” based of course on  “Measure for Measure”. Wagner’s “Das Liebesverbot” is rarely performed at the Opera Houses in these days and it would be interesting to see a new production of it.  It is known that one of Verdi’s dreams was to compose an opera about “King Lear” but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Imagine what would have happened if Verdi would have composed “King Lear”.  It would have been a masterpiece. Another special mention is Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music for “A Midsummer night’s dream” in which its very famous overture is an exquisite masterpiece.

No matter if is reading the books, watching a stage play or a film adaptation or watching and listening to an Operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays…. his works, famous quotes, dramatic moments, his dramas, tragedies, comedies, historical plays and sonnets have changed the world and his works, with his unforgettable lines and dramatical theatrical moments can make a huge impact on us an reflect about the human condition. And like brilliant scholar Harold Bloom who is (along with Victor Hugo and in which Victor Hugo also wrote brilliant essays about Shakespeare)  one of the greatest admires of Shakespeare’s works,  said…

“Shakespeare will not make us better, and he will not make us worse, but he may teach us how to overhear ourselves when we talk to ourselves… he may teach us how to accept change in ourselves as in others, and perhaps even the final form of change” – Harold Bloom

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Javier Camarena’s farewell performance as Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Tonight, January 18, the wonderful Mexican Tenor, Javier Camarena gave his farewell performance as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s masterpiece “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”. After 10 years of performing this role, Javier Camarena gave his farewell and final performance in this role in the greatest Opera House of the word, the Metropolitan Opera House, in New York.  In his Facebook account Javier Camarena shared us from his dressing room his video talkings about his feelings about performing Count Almaviva for the last time…. and he talked about so many things,  he talked that it was his last performance ever, after 10 years of perfoming this difficult role, he was saying goodbye to this role and in  his videos, Javier explained about the huge technical difficulties of singing Rossini, specially, the role of Almaviva in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”.
He also shared his memories of his many performances of Il Barbiere di Siviglia in different Opera Houses around thr world…. he remembered his colleagues from many past performances like Ferruccio Furlanetto, Ruggero Raimondi, Alessandro Corbelli, Samuel Ramey, Elina Garanca, Diana Damrau, Peter Mattei and beloved John del Carlo who passed way last year.
All my respects for Javier Camarena and all wonderful Bel Canto Opera singers who sing these very difficult roles that requiere many difficult techniques to sing in the marvelous, beautiful, exquisite but, also difficult roles of Bel canto Opera.
Singing this role indeed, requires difficult vocal technique and it is an honor that you gave your final performance of this role in the greatest Opera House… the Met.
Listening to Javier Camarena as Almaviva in the live radio broadcast from the Met of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, on last January 9 was a huge privilege for me.

Thank you, Gracias Javier Camarena for giving us so many joys with your many wonderful performances as Almaviva!
Thank you, Gracias for your Almaviva, Javier Camarena!

 

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Happy Birthday to two icons of the Opera, Marilyn Horne and Juan Diego Florez!

In this week, we celebrated the birthdays of two icons of the history of Opera, from two generations and that both of them made enriched the lives of many opera loves with their beautiful voices, and as a coincidence, both of them of Bel Canto and specially in the Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini repertoire and that is why I am making this tribute Birthday post to both marvelous Bel canto singers, Marilyn Horne, on January 16  and Juan Diego Florez on January 13, two extraordinary Opera singers from two different generations which made Bel Canto  singing to have the respect and dignity that not many Opera lovers had.

Marilyn Horne and Juan Diego Florez.

Marilyn Horne turned 83 years today and she is a jewel, a treasure of history of Opera.

Marilyn Horne is true living legend of the Opera….
One of the most beautiful voices ever, Marilyn Horne is one of my personal favorites, specially in the Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini repertoire!!!
Marilyn Horne is also associated with the unforgettable opera duets with the also legendary Joan Sutherland.
Her Carmen, with James McCracken is also a jewel of history of Opera!
Another of my favorites is the extraordinary Verdi’s Requiem with Marilyn Horne, Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti and Martti Talvela and with the great Sir Georg Solti conducting.
Many of Marilyn Horne´s performances are a true treasure for the opera lovers!

HAPPY 83 Birthday, Marilyn Horne!!!!

 

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Happy Birthday to one of our all time favorites, one of the greatest of Bel Canto singing! One of the most beloved Tenors of these days! A True Treasure of the Opera!!!!
The wonderful and always marvelous Juan Diego Florez!!!!!
What would be Bel Canto today without Juan Diego?
Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, L’Italiana in Algeri, “La fille du Regiment”, “La Donna del Lago”, “La Sonnabula” (in which Juan Diego performed today on his Birthday!) so many wonderful performances!!!
And Juan Diego… please com back soon again at the Met!
We miss you at the Met!!!!

FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ!!!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ!!!!

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Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey “duo” in Rossini’s “Semiramide”

 

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Elina Garanca in Mexico!

We have the huge honor of having, here in Mexico the presence of one of the greatest Mezzo Sopranos of the Opera, the extraordinary and beautiful Elina Garanca!

Elina Garanca has one of the greatest operatic careers in the recent years, in many wonderful opera performances like as Giovanna Seymour in “Anna Bolena”, Sara, Duchess of Nottingham in last year’s performance of “Roberto Devereux” at the MET, in which she was extraordinary,  in Donizetti’s “La Favorita”, in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito”, as Dorabella  in Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte”,  as Rossina in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”, as Angelina in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” and as the title role of Carmen (unforgettable in the extraordinary MET production of Carmen with Roberto Alagna as Don Jose) and now in this year we will see her again in the HD of Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” with Renée Fleming (In which we also had the honor of having her presence last year in Bellas Artes)

The repertoire of Elina Garanca marks from Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Mozart, to Richard Strauss, Bizet, Offenbach and Massenet.

Elina Garanca was born in Latvia, on September 16 of 1976 and her name is along with the names of Anna Netrebko, Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Kristine Opolais and Anja Harteros as one of the most popular and most beloved in the Operatic world.

Elina Garanca just gave a wonderful concert at Sala Nezahualcoyotl in Mexico City with the “Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria” and now she will present a recital in the beautiful Teatro Bicentenario in Leon City in Guanajuato.

BIENVENIDA, WELCOME ELINA GARANCA TO MEXICO!!!!

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Elina Garanca, sacred songs
Elina Garanca Zarzuela concert
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Happy 70th Birthday, James Morris!!!

And more Birthday celebrations today, on January 10!!!! Today, besides of being the Birthday of great American Baritone Sherrill Milnes (which I also dedicated a post)…. today is also the Birthday of the Great American Bass-Baritone James Morris!!!!!!!

James Morris turns today 70!!!!!

James Morris, just like Sherrill Milnes, also became a very important Opera artist for me… and he also belongs in my wonderful memories when I watched my first Operas from the MET on TV…. the name of James Morris, is along with the names of Maestro James Levine, Placido Domingo, Leo Nucci, Sherrill Milnes, Luciano Pavarotti that I associate with the MET and my first Opera viewings of this extraordinary Opera House.
James Morris became my first Wotan and also my first Hans Sachs ever.
James Morris is and always be my favorite in these two, iconic Wagnerian roles. Wotan and Hans Sachs.
My first Wagner’s Ring cycle ever was, of course, from the Schenk’s production of the MET with James Morris as Wotan and who is unforgettable in this role. I will never forget when I saw and listened to James Morris for the first time.
(and just like Sherrill Milnes… it was also love at first sight   )
James Morris became my first Bass-Baritone ever, along with Ruggero Raimondi, and I also loved him as the four villains in “Les Contes D’Hoffmann”; as Iago in “Otello” (unforgettable performance from the MET with Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming) his performance in “Luisa Miller”, with Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes, is also terrific, his King Phillip in Don Carlo is also wonderful, his Banco in “Macbeth” is one of the greatest ever and his repertoire is not limited only to Wagner and Verdi, James Morris has also a wonderful repertoire with Mozart’s like in Don Giovanni and Cosi fan Tutte and Le Nozze di Figaro.
And of course, James Morris was also brilliant in Britten’s operas, like BIlly Budd.
And James Morris is also great in Puccini!
His Scarpia is also magnificent and his Colline in “La Boheme” is one of the most beautiful ever. And luckily for all of us in these days at the MET… James Morris is still performing at the MET, recently in Turandot and Tosca .
And of course… we will never forget his “Hans Sachs” in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” which is one of the most beloved performances ever.
The Ring Cycle, Don Giovanni, Don Carlo, Otello, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Cosi fan tutte, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Tosca, Turandot, Aida, Macbeth, Billy Budd… so many wonderful operas in the wonderful career of James Morris!
James Morris, just like Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes… is a living treasure of not only of the MET but of the entire Opera world!

HAPPY 70TH BIRTHDAY JAMES MORRIS!!!!!

 

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Happy 82 Birthday, Sherrill Milnes!!!

Today is January 10 and it is the Birthday of one of our most beloved, most respected, most admired Baritones of the Opera… a treasure of the MET, one of the greatest ever… in the same category of of many wonderful singers like Placido Domingo, Leo Nucci, Luciano Pavarotti, Jessye Norman, Mirella Freni, Renata Scotto, James Morris (which today is also his birthday and I will dedicated another post to him ) and many more of this wonderful age of Opera…. the great Baritone Sherrill Milnes!!!!

Sherrill Milnes became my “first baritone”… the first time I saw him, was as Count di Luna in the MET’s version of “Il Trovatore” back in the 80s with Luciano Pavarotti and Eva Marton.
Later, Sherrill Milnes became my first “Amonasro” in Verdi’s Aida, also at the MET, this time with Placido Domingo.
For me and for many Opera fans, Sherrill Milnes became a “symbol” and a reference/link of the MET. Everytime I watched an Opera from the MET on tv, it had always Sherrill Milnes as their principal baritone (and also the great Leo Nucci who became my second baritone   )
Rigoletto, Ernani, Il Trovatore, Luisa Miller, Don Carlo, Simon Boccanegra, Nabucco, La Traviata, Macbeth, Un Ballo in Maschera., Otello, La Forza del Destino.. Sherrill Milnes gave so many beautiful performances as the perfect “Verdinian Baritone”  
I will never forget his evil “Iago” in Otello and his wonderful Rodrigo in Don Carlo.
And also his wonderful performances in Puccini Operas… His Scarpia is also one the best, his Marcello in La Boheme was beautiful and he was also terrific as Jack Lance in “La Fanciulla del West”.
I also remember watching a documentary about the life of Verdi, hosted by Sherrill Milnes and loved it so much.
Sherrill talked about Verdi and he even sang many arias in this documentary.
Of course.. in operatic “duets or couples”…. Sherrill Milnes had a terrific chemistry with Placido Domingo. I remember many wonderful performances that they did together and they even made a recording in which they conducted each other!
(Sherrill Milnes also conducted like Placido )

So for many reasons.. Sherill Milnes became a very important Opera artist for me… because my Opera education grew watching and listening many operas with him   I will always be thankful for Sherrill Milnes and his beautiful performances.

HAPPY 82 Birthday, Sherrill Milnes!!!!!

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Nabucco, the first Met in HD of 2017

Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate……..

OH MY!!!!!! What a glorious first HD broadcast of 2017!!!!! I absolutely LOVED the HD of Nabucco with Placido Domingo!!!!! It was GLORIOUS!!!! What a magnificent, glorious, wonderful way to begin this new 2017 than with Verdi’s first masterpice!!! I have so many things to say about yesterday’s HD broadcast of Nabucco!!! I was and still so excited!!!! This HD broadcast of Nabucco is historical  because for many reasons…. because we saw two living legends of the Opera in this performance… Placido Domingo and Maestro James Levine. The first thing that I have to say is that… the glorious chorus of Va, Pensiero made me cry…. and the extraordinary encore made me cry even more…. I had lots of goosebumps while watching and listening to the glorious “Va, pensiero” chorus…. there are no words to describe the beauty, the poetry of that moment… in the moment when, after the Abigaille and Nabucco duet-discussion ended… and the stage turned dark and right and when the stage began to rotate… and when the first notes of “Va, pensiero” started… and suddenly the lights turn on and we all were watching the chorus…singing “Va, Pensiero” oh my!!!! There are no words to describe that moment!!!! It was magic!!! I have seen many versions of “Nabucco” which when the Va, pensiero Chorus moment always makes me cry… but this time.. in this Met in HD version… oh my!!! I had so many goosebumps!!! The entire auditorium was in silence and at the end… we all applauded like crazy! And right in the moment, during the applauses for the “Va, Pensiero” chorus, the camera focused on Maestro Levine’s face…. I said to myself… he is going to do it! He is going to do the encore!!!! And it happened!!! And all of us, in the auditorium applauded more after the glorious encore!!! This was one of these moments that makes Opera so glorious and that I will never forget! It was a huge joy for me to watch dear Maestro James Levine conducting!!! What a joy to see our beloved Maestro Levine conducting and with such happiness on his face! I noticed his smile and joy on his face while he was conducting!!! And of course, what made this HD of “Nabucco” glorious was…. our dear Placido Domingo who is a true TREASURE of Opera! Yes, I attended to this Nabucco performance with the idea that I was not going to listen to a Baritone…. the reason why I went to see this performance of Nabucco was because Placido Domingo was in it… and he is an icon, a symbol of history of Opera. In the same level of Enrico Caruso and Maria Callas. Placido Domingo changed the history of Opera for better because of his extraordinary singing and acting performances… Placido has showed us that Opera is not only about singing but is also about acting. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I went to see “Nabucco” for Placido because he is a treasure and I felt privileged of watching a living legend of the Opera like Placido in this new HD performance… I think that all of us are so lucky and fortunate to have a treasure like Placido Domingo! Placido is not a baritone, he is not a conductor, he is not a tenor….. Placido is PLACIDO DOMINGO!!!!! We must never forget ever, that Placido Domingo has done a lot of wonderful things for the Opera world, with the Operalia competitions, supporting new talents, supporting Opera all over the world… Placido has a natural love and passion for Opera and he loves what he does and that is the reason why he still loves to perform. Placido is an international treasure and an extraordinary human being who not only has one of the most glorious voices ever and one of the most extraordinary acting talents but also one of the greatest humanitarians ever and with one of the most beautiful smiles ever. I will never, ever forget what Placido did for Mexico in the earthquake of 1985. Another thing that I admired was his incredible physical quality! How I wish, when I get to have 76, the actual age of Placido, to be like that! And in this performance as the title role of Nabucco, Placido, yes even with his beautiful Tenor voice, he became Nabucco! (Just like in Simon Boccanegra) Yes, we had other wonderful Nabuccos like Leo Nucci, Zeljko Lucic, Sherrill Milnes, etc… but Placido made it special in this performance! BRAVO, BRAVISSIMO PLACIDO DOMINGO!!!!!!!!! Another thing that I must mention was that our Auditorium Mateo Herrera was completely sold out!!!!! And yes, because it was “Nabucco” and it had Placido Domingo and Placido… as I already mentioned before… is very loved here in Mexico. Placido Domingo is very special for all us here. Also, a very special mention for the magnificent Liudmyla Monastyrska who was brilliant in the killer role of Abigaille!!!! BRAVA BRAVISSIMA Monastyrska!!!! And also the always wonderful Jamie Barton as Fenena, Russell Thomas who was super excellent as Ismaele (This is a wonderful Tenor to watch out in the future! He was absolutely wonderful!) and Dmitry Belosselskiy as Zaccaria were also terrific!!! BRAVI, Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas and Dmitry Belosselskiy!!!!!!!!! And of course…..a Huge BRAVI to the glorious MET Opera Chorus in which in this performance (and also in Guillaume Tell) they shined more than ever!!! BRAVI MET Opera Chorus!!!!!! BRAVI to the glorious MET Opera Orchestra!!!!! And of course…. BRAVO, BRAVISSIMO to our beloved Maestro James Levine who we will always treasure as our most beloved conductor of the MET of these last 30 years. And of course…. BRAVI to Jay Millard and his wonderful camera team who did an excellent job, as always in the first HD of the year!!! And thank you, Met for broadcasting Nabucco. It is a performance that I will never ever forget!!! And I also enjoyed the interview of Peter Gelb with Placido and Maestro Levine and the preview for Romeo et Juliette And all dear friends.. I highly recommend you all to see the encore performance this Wednesday! It is an experience that you will never forget!!! And get ready for the Va, pensiero chorus!! It will make you cry like never before!!!  
VIVA VERDI!!!!!!!! VIVA PLACIDO DOMINGO!!!!!!

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