Happy Birthday Renée Fleming!

Today is the Birthday of one of our most beloved and most respected Sopranos of the Opera. Renée Fleming is known as “The People’s Diva” and she has gave us so many joys in so many different operas and roles…. from Handel and Mozart to Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Richard Strauss (Renee Fleming is one of the greatest performers of Richard Strauss) Renée has made a huge impact in Opera with her beautiful rich silver voice and her also beautiful presence.
Her Rusalka is one of the greatest ever, her Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro exquisite, her “Thais” (along with an also excellent Thomas Hampson) , unforgettable, her Desdemona, one of the most moving ever, her extraordinary Tatyana (along with an also extraordinary Dmitri Hvorostovsky) one of the most wonderful ever, her Donna Anna, magnificent, her Violetta, excellent, her Manon Lescaut, marvelous! Renée Fleming has performed in German, Italian, French, Russian, Czech, making her one of the most versatile Sopranos of the last 30 years in Opera.
And of course, we can not forget her marvelous Richard Strauss repertoire, Capriccio, Arabella and specially, Der Rosenkavalier in which Renée will give her final farewell Operatic performance in this season and in which, I am very sure… all of us will not miss the HD It will be a very emotional HD broadcast.
I also can not forget her wonderful recitals that Renée Fleming gave in Mexico City which I loved the broadcasts so much!
We, in the operatic world, will definitely miss our Diva, the people’s Diva, Renee Fleming!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RENÉE FLEMING!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy 90th Birthday, Leontyne Price!!!

Happy Birthday to a living legend of history of the Opera singing, one of the greatest, one of the most beautiful voices ever, the extraordinary, wonderful, magnificent… our one and only…. Leontyne Price!!!!!   The history of the Opera and the history of the Met would not be the same without the gorgeous beautiful voice and presence of Leontyne Price.
The first time I saw Leontyne Price, was in the 1983 production from the Met of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino along with Giuseppe Giacomini and Leo Nucci and I was completely blown away by her performance! I became a fan!!!   I will never, ever forget when I saw her for the first time in my life in “La Forza del Destino”!
So many wonderful performances….. Aida, La Forza del Destino, Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera…. so many operas and wonderful performances to name!!! I will also never forget her magnificent singing in Verdi’s Requiem!
We are so lucky and blessed to have this beautiful living legend of the Opera with us. Leontyne Price is a true TREASURE of the Opera!!!!
Thank you, Leontyne Price for your beautiful, unique voice and for your many wonderful, extraordinary performances!!! You gave so much to us!!!
HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY, LEONTYNE PRICE!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In loving memory of Nicolai Gedda (1925-2017)

I just read the sad news of the passing of one of the greatest Tenors of history of Opera…. the wonderful legendary Swedish Tenor Nicolai Gedda.
The world of Opera lost one of the most beautiful voices ever and one of the most charismatic Tenors ever.
Nicola Gedda was a true legend and a treasure of history of Opera.
He brought us so many joys with his beautiful voice and performances.
Nicolai Gedda passed away on January but the family decided to confirm the sad news until now.
Nicolai Gedda had one of the greatest and most versatile opera careers ever in the repertoire for a Tenor. I remember listening to his wonderful
Faust, Hoffmann, King Riccardo/Gustavo, Alfredo, Rodolfo, his extraordinary Lensky, Nemorino, Duke of Mantua, Don Ottavio, etc, etc in different recordings and I remember loving each different performance and singing.
Nicolai Gedda always performed so beautifully the most difficult arias for a Tenor and his voice always brought happiness to my heart.
The role Chapelou in Adolphe Adam’s “Le postillon de Lonjumeau” is one of my personal favorites and I will post a video down below so that you can all enjoy Nicolai Gedda’s beautiful voice.
Rest in peace, Nicolai Gedda and thank you, thank you for the many beautiful performances that you gave to us…. your voice will always live in our hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in peace, Nicolai Gedda.

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Happy 85th Birthday, John Williams!

 

Happy 85 Birthday to John Williams!!!! I know, maybe John Williams took “this…. and that….. ” from many classical composers (Puccini, Stravinsky, Dvorak) for his film scores (He indeed is an opera and classical music fan   ) but he marked my childhood with his music for such films like the original Star Wars movies, the Indiana Jones trilogy and specially….. …..Jaws.
(I always think that “Jaws” is a masterpiece because of the three excellent protagonists, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and the great, magnificent Robert Shaw and the brilliant, terrifying music)
I am grateful that for such films like Jaws, Star Wars or Indiana Jones, filmmakers like George Lucas and Steve Spielberg decided to use symphonic music instead of the popular 70s Disco songs that were very popular as “soundtrack music” in the film industry back then in the 70s.
The symphonic music of John Williams made an education in my childhood by listening to symphonic music in films (that and also when my family took me to my first classical music concerts at age 7 ) and also made me love, when I was a kid, to read the final credits of each film just by listening to the music of John Williams (Now in these days is weird that people stay to read the final credits of a film)
Anyway… The symphonic music of John Williams is a way that I think that can bring people to get close to classical music and that is why I celebrate him )
John Williams changed the film industry with his unforgettable film scores!
(Ennio Morricone, Maurice Jarre, Bernard Herrmann are my other favorites)
John Williams brought music to many wonderful characters of history of cinema, Indiana Jones…. Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Harry Potter, a Shark, Dinosaurs, Superman, ET, a spoiled boy left alone at home on Christmas (Home Alone) …. etc, etc….
I have many, many beautiful happy memories from my childhood with the music of John Williams…. Indiana Jones, Jaws and Star Wars are my favorites. (I also like the Home Alone them   ) Do you all have a favorite John Williams moment?
Happy 85 Birthday, John Williams!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 85 Birthday, John Williams!

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Happy 205 Birthday, Charles Dickens!

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

(The opening line of “A Tale of Two Cities”, in which Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes described as one of the greatest opening lines in history of literature! Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes named “A Tale of Two Cities” one of his all time favorite books!)

Today, February 7th is the 205 Birthday Anniversary of one of the greatest writers of not only English literature but of all universal literature… Charles Dickens!
This extraordinary man, from Portsmouth, changed our lives with his wonderful literature and many, many, many wonderful, unforgettable characters that were brought to life by him and that were a reflection or a mirror of the Victorian era.
Charles Dickens, along with Cervantes, Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, is one of my heroes of literature because just like Victor Hugo, Cervantes, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, Dickens wrote many things about humanity in his novels and short stories. Dickens was not only an extraordinary writer but he was also a very strong social critic (He was also against of American Slavery) I admire Dickens very much for so many reasons, he educated himself after he was pulled out from school and that is something that I admire so much! At the beginning, Dickens started to write under the pseudonym of “Boz” with “Sketches by Boz” and “The Pickwick Papers” and later, Charles Dickens became one of the most important writes of literature with his rich, realistic writing and also with his strong social criticism.
What would be our Christmas celebrations without Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”? Definitely Charles Dickens made Christmas time more beautiful and more deeply spiritually with his marveous tale of the famous greedy Ebenezer Scrooge. What our lives be without the many extraordinary characters of Dickens’ novels and short stories?
Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the Three ghosts of Christmas, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, Fagin, The Artful Dodger, Pip, Miss Havisham, Abel Magwitch, Sydney Carton, David Copperfield (his most autobiographical character), so many wonderful, different and very complex characters!!!
Also, along with Shakespeare, many of the wonderful stories by Charles Dickens have been adapted by films (Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol are breaking the records!)
(I also highly recommend to watch the wonderful staging performance of “Nicholas Nickleby”, that my dear Dickensian friend Rachel Anne Murphy, who is the greatest admirer of Dickens that I have ever met, and that has a wonderful blog, in which is my huge honor to follow… https://doncarloandtheseamstress.com/  shared to me and I am posting the links below   )
I just want to end here with a big thank you to Charles Dickens for making our lives more beautiful and richer with his extraordinary tales that are a huge lesson of humanity. Many people around the world should read Dickens because seriously, every novel, novella and short story by Dickens is a true lesson of humanity. All of us, as human beings, should must be better human beings after reading Dickens’ works. And reading Dickens in these days, is more important, now than ever. And yes, in these days, we need more men like Charles Dickens.

 

HAPPY 205TH BIRTHDAY, CHARLES DICKENS!!!!!! 🙂

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Happy Birthday Anniversary, Verdi/Boito’s Otello!

“Instead of Otello being an Italian opera written in the style of Shakespeare, Othello is a play written by Shakespeare in the style of Italian opera. “ George Bernard Shaw.

Today, February 5 is the Birthday Anniversary of Verdi/Boito’s masterpiece Otello! Verdi/Boito’s Otello premiered on February 5 of 1887 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. And once again the genius of Verdi did it, he gave us another masterpiece for the Opera but he didn’t do it alone, he did it with the colaboration of the extraordinary and very erudite librettist, poet and also composer, a true Renaissance man (and another hero of mine!) Arrigo Boito, in which like Verdi, he had a huge passion for Shakespeare. Verdi gave us the mastepiece of the music and Boito gave us the masterpiece with the libretto and that is why I always mention this opera.. “Otello” to “Verdi/Boito’s Otello… because this masterpiece would not have been possible without the collaboration of one and another. But first, we must thank to the opera “Simon Boccanegra” for Otello, why? Because “Simon Boccanegra” was the opera that reunited for the first time the incredible team of Verdi/Boito (How I wish that they could have made more operas together!) Without the revision of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Verdi’s final masterpieces (and both based on Shakespeare), Otello and Falstaff would not have been possible. Why I consider Otello one of my top all time favorite operas and one of the finest works of art of Verdi, along with Don Carlo and Rigoletto? For many wonderful things, the orchestration which is one of the most perfect and most complex ever in history of Italian Opera. Here are my favorite musical moments from Otello, which are so many! The way how Otello begings with the magnificent and chilling Storm Chorus… “Una vela!” which is one of the strongest and most powerful opening moments ever in history of Opera and it is like a prelude… a violent prelude of what is going to happen in the story… (For me and many others, I compare this storm chorus to Verdi’s powerful “Dies Irae” from his also majestic “Requiem” which also gives many goosebumps and only a genius like Verdi could give us so many tense and strong choruses!) and after the glorious and chilling and unforgettable opening chorus… we go to a little calm and then we go to Iago’s fabulous drinking song in which is an apparently “happy song” but there is a lot of darkness behind this “Happy Drinking song…”Inaffia l’ugola!”… the orchestration, the singing of the chorus leaded by the baritone villain who performs Iago, all is a masterpiece itself (and one of my personal favorite drinking songs!) later we go to one of the most beautiful love duets ever… and heartbreaking too because we know that there is no going to be a happy ending with this couple… Otello and Desdemona. Later we go to probably one of the greatest, most chilling arias ever for a Baritone… “Credo”, in which this aria reflects who is Iago. I remember many excellent discussions about the nature of Iago and why he is like that… many questions… little answers… “Credo” is our answer to our questions of why Iago does the things that he does. With “Credo”, Iago is completely “introduced” to us and this aria, along with Scarpia’s “Va, Tosca, te Deum” is one of the most chilling arias for an Opera villain. I will make a step larger so to not to make this post large… my other favorite operatic moment is Otello’s and Iago’s duet…. “Si pel Ciel”, which is a marathon itself to sing that duet and we need the best tenor and the best Baritone to sing to perfection this duet.
There are differences of course between Shakespeare’s book “Othello” and Verdi’s Otello”. In the Opera we open as we all know with the chilling thunder storm….in the book, the storm appears at the start of Act 2. Iago’s version in Verdi’s Otello is more, more evil and it is more developed as a villain than in the book. (So it was that at the beginning Verdi was thinking of naming the opera… “Iago”) later we go to one of the most dramatic, most complex, most perfect moments ever in history of Opera…the entire act 3 which is a complete Olympic marathon for all singers… at the final dramatic moments of act 3, the final chorus ensemble in act 3, yes, Verdi did it again! All are singing and expressing their human emotions at the same time… only a Genius like Verdi can do that! Then we go to the final act IV, with one of the most dramatic arias ever for a Soprano, Desdemona’s Willow song… “Sauce, Sauce, Sauce”…..and of course as we know, Desdemona ends her aria with her prayer “Ave Maria”. And to make this post shorter… of course we finish with the famous dramatic ending that we all know, the ending that makes us sad and angry and that makes us cry…making it one of the greatest tragedies of history of Opera and literature and theater. From the beginning we meet a hero, Otello and at the end, we see his dramatic fall. Many of us get angry why Otello believes more in Iago than in Desdemona, we ask to ourselves why he is so blind? Well, unfortunately, that is human nature. And many human beings can fall also in the same trap just like Otello did. And both Shakespeare and Verdi/Boito gave us the perfect lesson of humanity with this tragic story. which makes it the perfect masterpiece of what it is. This tragedy teaches us so much about the soul of humanity, and I highly recommend to read both the book and also watch the Opera (with their differences of course, but both the book and Opera are a true work of art) Verdi/Boito’s Otello is the clear example of what the perfect combination of what Opera is…. Greek tragedy, Literature, drama, poetry, music… in other words… the perfect definition of what a group of extraordinary intellectuals in Renaissance Florence …“The Florentine Camerata” wanted to do by reviving the Greek tragedies and giving birth to our big passion that is…. “OPERA”. Otello, is (along with Don Carlo and Mozart/da Ponte’s trilogy and Wagner’s operas) ….what I call the true OPERA. And I also consider Otello a “total work of art” (Remembering Wagner’s own concept) Musically, “Otello” is a true work of art, a masterpiece and with so many contrasting and yet complex and beautiful operatic moments…. The opening storm chorus, Iago’s drinking song and Credo, the children’s chorus for Desdemona…and the dramatic chorus ensemble in act III and Desdemona’s Willow Song… Verdi’s Otello is a true example of his maturity as a composer along with the final culmination of Falstaff. We are so happy that Verdi didn’t retire and that, thanks to Arrigo Boito, who was another genius, he gave us this masterpiece of history of music.
(I don’t wish to be in the shoes of the Tenor/Soprano and Baritone who have the three leading roles, singing “Otello” is like doing the Olympic games!)
Happy Birthday… Verdi/Boito’s Otello!!!

 

Here is my favorite recording of Verdi/Boito’s Otello, with Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes and Renata Scotto: Part I

 

And Part II:

 

 

 

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Happy Belated Birthday Felix Mendelssohn Bartoldy!

Today, well actually yesterday, February 3 was the Birthday anniversary of another of my musical heroes, the great Felix Mendelssohn.
Mendelssohn was one of the greatest and one of the finest geniuses that history of music ever had…. he was a pianist, conductor and composer and one of the most brilliant ever.
Felix Mendelssohn came from one of the most erudite families of Europe.
His Grandfather was the Erudite Philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, one of the greatest Erudites of history of Europe and one of the most important figures of the Age of Enlightenment in Germany.
(I remember in the wonderful cultural radio programs of Ernesto de la Peña how much he loved to talk about the wonderful and erudite Mendelssohn dinasty)
Felix’s sister, Fanny, was also a composer and also very high cultivated.
Like Mozart and also Camille Saint Saens and George Enescu, Mendelssohn was also a child prodigy and he and his sister Fanny received an excellent education in music, literature, languages, science, etc, and both grew up in a very important intellectual environment. (Mendelssohn knew and met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) Mendelssohn was deeply influenced by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (In which later, Mendelssohn himself conducted and revived Bach’s “St Matthew Passion”) Besides of Bach, Mendelssohn also revived the music of Schubert.
My introduction to Mendelssohn’s beautiful music was with his beautiful overture of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, my first thoughts about the overture of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” were, “this is the most beautiful thing that I have ever heard”! in which later I listened to the entire incidental music in a beautiful concert with the “OFUNAM” (The principal orchestra of the National University of Mexico) and I later I loved his beautiful Violin Concerto, his wonderful symphonies, specially his Symphony No. 4 in A major “Italiana”. And of course, one of my all time favorite Oratorios is “Elijah” . The Hebrides Overture is also another favorite that I love and I also highly recommend to listen to his marvelous Piano Concertos which are a treasure.
(I also highly recommend to listen to the beautiful Concerto for 2 pianos in E major)
Trivia: The Mendelssohn connection to Mexico, the famous “Piatti Stradivarius Cello” that now belongs to Mexican Cellist Carlos Prieto, once belong to one of Mendelssohn’s descendents, Francesco Mendelssohn (In which Francesco rescued the “Piatti Cello” of being destroyed by the Nazis.
Happy Birthday, Herzlichen glückwunsch zum geburtstag, Felix Mendelssohn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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