Five Years without Ernesto de la Peña,

e quel savio gentil, che tutto seppe – Inferno, Canto VII
(The Divine Comedy)

This is my first post since July.  I want to remember with love to  Mexican erudite Ernesto de la Peña, because today, September 10, is his Fifth Death Anniversary.
Ernesto de la Peña was a very special man, he was the wisest and most cultured man of Mexico. He was known here as “the Mexican Pico della Mirandola”
He was the man who knew 33 languages, that loved Opera and music very much, a philologist, writer, cultural lover and translator. The man who was appointed collaborator of the Encyclopedia Dantesque, (L’Enciclopedia Dantesca) and who was the only Mexican who had this honor.
The man who learned languages because he wanted to read the original books in its original language. Greek for Homer, Latin for Virgil, Italian for Dante, German for Goethe, French for Rabelais, English for Shakespeare, Russian for Tolstoy..
The man who had his tv “Operamania” programs with his friend Eduardo Lizalde and enjoyed all composers and all operas, the man who had his huge Library with more of 26,000 books, many of them in their original language, Greek, Latin, Russian, French, Italian, English, German and Hebrew.
Ernesto had his radio program, “Al Hilo del Tiempo” in which he talked about the history of culture, history of art, philosophy, Opera, languages, religion, and I always loved to learn from him.
When on this day, five years ago, I was listening to the news, and whay they announced his passing in the radio, my heart stopped and I started to cry. I learned so much from him… I always thought of myself as an ignorant who wanted to learn more and with Ernesto de la Peña, I always felt like a wise Grandpa-teacher in which I was learning so many new things that I didn’t know.
Five years, without Ernesto de la Peña. Mexico still missing him, very much.  And in a different note…..My heart, thoughts and prayers, are with the victims of the earthquake of the 8.2 Earthquake in Mexico, specially with Oaxaca and Chiapas, and my heart is also with my dearest friends that live in California, Montana and Oregon because of the wildfires and my heart is also with my friends of Houston because of  Hurricane Harvey and thinking and praying  now for my friends in Puerto Rico and  Florida because of the path of Hurrican Irma.

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Feliz Cumpleaños, Happy Birthday, Eduardo Lizalde!

“The tiger is a fascinating figure from biblical times to the current stage and I do not think that there is a writer who has not ever mentioned the tiger. The Tiger is the image of the death, destruction, and in addition, beauty; this is just a metaphorical instrument.” Eduardo Lizalde.

July 14 was the birthday of our beloved and admired mexican poet Eduardo Lizalde!
His nickname is “The Tiger” because of the recurrent appearance of this animal in his poetic works, written under the influence of Jorge Luis Borges and William Blake, but also by his readings of certain children’s stories of Kipling and Salgari.
Besides of being a brilliant poet, Eduardo Lizalde is also a great enthusiast of the opera and years ago he had a special program named “100 years of Opera in Mexico” in Canal 22 and he also wrote, under the pseudonym of “Enesimo Nemo” many articles about his memories and love for Opera in different newspapers and cultural magazines and years later, to rescue his Opera memories from the old Opera memories that Eduardo Lizalde wrote in these articles, the special investigator Edgar Ceballos gathered in a compilation in the book tiltled as “The Opera Today, yesterday and always: an anthology of Opera chronicles by Eduardo Lizalde”. In this delightful book, in which I had the fortune of reading, the different and rich opinions of Eduardo Lizalde about Opera and about many legends, from Ramon Vinay, Titta Ruffo, and Maria Callas, to, Placido Domingo and Samuel Ramey and also about his Opera travels around the world, Bayreuth, the MET, la Scala…and also about the moments when Maria Callas performed in Mexico.
He was also a host (along with the great erudite and scholar Ernesto de la Peña, with whom he had a great friendship) of the also excellent program “Operomania”, in TV UNAM channel, in which both talked about their favorite Operas and also about the history of Opera.
Together, Eduardo Lizalde and Ernesto de la Peña, had beautiful programs in which they commented famous operas such as “The Marriage of Figaro”, “The Flying Dutchman”, “Don Giovanni”, “William Tell”, “Fidelio”, “Andrea Chenier”, “The Tales of Hoffman”, “Don Carlo”, “Eugene Onegin” and the “Wagner’s Ring Cycle”.
Eduardo Lizalde studied singing, composition and lyrics at the night school of the “Conservatorio Nacional” at the same time when he was studying literature in the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature at the UNAM.
And in the words of Ernesto de la Peña, one of the best and most beautiful poems of Eduardo Lizalde is “Third Tenochtitlán”.
Apart from the opera, Eduardo Lizalde is fond of good wine and cheese. 😉
Eduardo Lizalde was recently awarded this year with the “Carlos Fuentes International Literature Prize” and he is considered as “The most important living Poet of Mexico”.
(Fun trivia, Eduardo Lizalde is also known as a “Tiger” not only becase of his poems but also because of his passionate “hunting” for great Opera recordings and albums” )

Feliz Cumpleaños, Eduardo Lizalde!

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Celebrating Pablo Neruda!

“Sólo con una ardiente paciencia conquistaremos la espléndida ciudad que dará luz, justicia y dignidad a todos los hombres. Así la poesía no habrá cantado en vano” Pablo Neruda
(“Only with a burning patience will conquer the splendid City which will give light, justice and dignity to all men. The poetry will not be sung in vain”)

Celebrating Pablo Neruda!

On this day, Pablo Neruda, the greatest poet of XX century (in words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971, was born in Chile, back in 1904.
His real name was Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (I’m glad that he changed his name, whew! ) ) and he took as a pseudonym “Neruda” in tribute of the Czech poet Jan Neruda. He changed his name because his father didn’t want him to become a poet.
Indeed, Pablo Neruda gave a huge legacy to the world of literature and the also great Harold Bloom added Pablo Neruda as one of the 26 writers central to the Western tradition in his very famous book “The Western Canon”.
It will take long to mention all of Neruda’s works, among them his collection of poems “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair”.
My favorite work of Pablo Neruda is “Canto General” which is, in my opinion, a monument and the greatest legacy for the poetry of Latin America.
And yes, there is a link of Pablo Neruda to the Opera! Pablo Neruda inspired Chilean author Antonio Skarmeta’s novel “Ardient Paciencia” in which later inspired the film adaptation of the famous Italian film “Il Postino” (Neruda’s Postman) and years later, Mexican composer, Daniel Catan composed the Operatic version with Placido Domingo playing the role of Pablo Neruda.
Recently I had the pleasure of watching a new film about him, “Neruda” which was nominated for the Golden Globe of Best foreign film.

Remembering the great Pablo Neruda in his Birthday Anniversary.

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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Birthday and also fifth Death Anniversary.

In words of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf ……..
“A born god who has it all”

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Birthday and also fifth Death Anniversary.
5 Years ago, on May 18 of 2012, the world of Opera and classical music lost one of the most beautiful and most incomparable voices ever and one of the most important performers of Lieder and also a conductor and also writer… Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Thanks to the beauty of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, I discovered the beauty of Schubert’s Lieder and I highly recommend his many wonderful recordings that he did with Gerald Moore very much!
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau performed Opera, Oratorio and of course, Lieder and he has performed in many languages, German, English, French, Italian, Russian, Hungarian (he was married to Julia Varady) and Hebrew plus besides of singing and conducting, he also wrote books “Robert Schumann: Words and Music”, “Wagner and Nietzsche”, “Schubert’s songs”, “Gustav Mahler”, “Johannes Brahms: Leben und Lieder, “Joseph Haydn”, “Goethe als Intendant”, just to name a few.
Besides of his famous Lieder recordings which are a treasure of music, (my personal favorite is “Die schöne Müllerin”) FischerDieskau also made wonderful perfomances in different repertoire like Rigoletto, as Rodrigo in Don Carlo, as Germont in La Traviata, as Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, as the four villains in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”, as Don Alfonso in Cosi fan Tutte, his wonderful Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte… just to name a few.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sang Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Verdi, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Britten, Bartok, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Offenbach, Wagner so many composers and he was very versatile. He was one of my personal favorite voices, beautiful and soft…. in some ways… his voice reminds me a bit… to Peter Mattei’s.
It is not a surprise that FischerDieskau‘s voice is one of my favorites, because of my love for Baritones, Bass/Baritones and also Bass singers.
FischerDieskau, was also a conductor. Incredibly, if I am correct, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau never, ever performed at the Met.
Today, May 28, we remember Diestrich Fischer-Dieskau on his Birthday Anniversary.

 

 

 

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Remembering Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017)

“We all have a resposibility in life to do what we can to help those less fortunate”….. Roger Moore.

The world lost not only a living legend of classic cinema and along with Sean Connery, an extraordinary James Bond, but the world also lost an extraordinary human being…..
Roger Moore was something more than 007 James Bond, or Simon Templar (The Saint) but he was also an UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, he did a lot of beautiful work for UNICEF for the children around the world and he was also against animal cruelty and supported PETA.
“Live and let Die”, “The Man with the Golden Gun”, “The Spy Who Loved Me”, “Moonraker”, “For your Eyes Only”, “Octopussy” and a “View to Kill” are the films in which Roger Moore gave us many joys as 007 James Bond. (and in many films of the Roger Moore era, it had some of the best villains, Christopher Lee, Richard Kiel (unforgettable Jaws) and Louis Jordan, just to name a few.
James Bond, The Saint but most important…. a gentleman that did wonderful work for UNICEF and that cared for the less fortunate.
Thank you Roger Moore, for the many joys that you gave us with you wonderful movies, specially as James Bond and thank you more, for your beautiful humanitarian work that you did for humanity. Rest in peace Sir Roger Moore.   (1927-2017)

 

 

 

 

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Carlos Fuentes, Fifth Death Anniversary

Carlos Fuentes. Universal Mexican. (1928-2012)

On   May 15th, five years ago, Carlos Fuentes, Novelist, essayist and one of the greatest writers of Mexico, passed away at age 83.
In his obituary, the New York Times described him as “one of the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world” and also, (along with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo and Jorge Luis Borges) an important influence on the “Latin American Boom”, the explosion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and ’70s.
And also in the words of the New York times, Carlos Fuentes was called as “Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of Mexico’s history for readers around the world”.
Carlos Fuentes was often called as “universal Mexican” and also, the Guardian called Carlos Fuentes as “Mexico’s most celebrated novelist”.
He won many literary honors like the “Miguel de Cervantes Prize” (the highest of Spanish literature) and Carlos Fuentes was often a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature but unfortunately he never won.
He wrote many novels, short stories, plays and essays and he also wrote intellectual articles in journal newspapers, commenting not also about the political problems of Mexico and Latin America but also about the problems of the world.
Carlos Fuentes was indeed a man of culture, a true intellectual, he loved reading books and writing of course, it was also a pleasure to read his opinions about books, history, music and even movies.
The death of Carlos Fuentes in 2012 was a huge loss for Mexican Culture but luckily, his books are still in the list of the most readed books in many Mexican libraries and that makes the spirit of Carlos Fuentes more alive than ever, in the Mexican culture.

Some interesting trivia: Carlos Fuentes served as Mexico’s ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977.

He also taught at Cambridge, Brown, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, and Cornell.

Among his favorite authors were Balzac, Pablo Neruda, Miguel de Cervantes, William Faulkner and James Joyce

His favorite books were:
Don Quijote de la Mancha, by Cervantes.
The Odyssey by Homer
Macbeth by Shakespeare
La Comédie humaine by Balzac
The poetic works by Quevedo
Our mutual friend by Dickens,
Absalom, Absalom! by Faulkner
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
Antigone by Sophocles

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Eugene Onegin MET in HD

OH MY!!! OH MY!!!!!! My heart  in last Saturday, April 22 was in joy and happiness after the glorious HD of Eugene Onegin!!!!
I was in heaven!!!!!!!!!!
I still can’t believe what I saw last Saturday, April 22…. it was beyond of beautiful, of incredible and poetical! It was MAGNIFICENT!!!!!!
Last Saturday’s Live in HD of Eugene Onegin was was so special for me for many, many reasons, as many know, Stefan Kocan is one of my personal favorites, he is my favorite and also the greatest Bass of Opera of today and he shined like a true star in the sky with his beautiful performance as Gremin! Another reason that this HD is so special for me is because “Eugene Onegin” is one of my personal, all time, favorite Operas, it is an Opera which I always treasured, because of the poetical music and arias, quartets and Eugene Onegin makes me feel so thankful for loving Opera, Last Saturday’s HD of Eugene Onegin was a perfect example of what true beauty is and that separates it from the ugly things of the world.
What else can I say about the exquisite quartet of Madame Larina, Filippyevna, Olga and Tatyana at the beginning and also the glorious peasants chorus which makes me feel so happy and always wants me to dance and sing along with them? Also the quartets of Onegin, Tatyana, Olga and Lensky, Tatyana’s famous and beautiful “Letter aria” which is a moment that gives me lots of goosebumps? And Onegin’s answer, so cruel and yet with lots of beauty in the singing and in the music…. how can aria be cruel and musically beautiful at the same time? Only a genius like Tchaikovsky could do that!  
And the also glorious and famous Waltz in Tatyana’s name party which at the beginning is full of happiness and it ends tragically… the chorus singing with joy at the beginning of the Waltz and they end with concern, sadness and pain because of Lenky and Onegin’s confrontation in the party… a moment that is full of incomparable strong drama and the chorus, the music, and the entire singing from the cast made is so perfectly beautiful!
And Lenky’s haunting aria…. “Kuda, Kuda”, which is one of my all time personal favorite arias for a Tenor…. it is so haunting and it also breaks me . Kuda, Kuda is one of the most beautifully, dramatically arias ever full with beauty and tragedy. Lenky’s and Onegin’s duet before the duel also breaks me and I have no words to describe the beauty of this duet in this tragic moment.
And the glorious and powerful Act III… the magnificent and joyful Polonaise which is one my all time favorites….. the gorgeous music and dancing was a joy for me to watch! And as everyone here know… the big moment was coming…. Stefan Kocan’s extraordinary performance as Gremin and his famous “Gremin’s aria” touched many hearts around the world!
(In a personal note which I’ll give more details later below in this post… here in my zone, in the Auditorium Mateo Herrera, the audience applauded so load to Stefan’s magnificent performance! Anna Netrebko, Peter Mattei an Alexey Dolgov also received applauses but not as much as Stefan Kocan! )
And Onegin’s aria in which he determines to write to Tatyana and declare his “love for her” is also priceless! And of course, the powerful ending… the duet of Onegin and Tatyana, which makes it one of the greatest endings ever!
I loved many versions of Eugene Onegin… but last Saturday’s performance is one of the greatest ever!
Anna Netrebko as Tatyana… Anna once again gave us an extraordinary Tatyana and her Letter aria was absolutely glorious, beautiful and so moving! I liked her so much in the 2013 version and I liked her even more now today! BRAVA, BRAVISSIMA Anna Netrebko!!!!!  Peter Mattei, what else can I say about Peter’s excellent Onegin? Peter Mattei always gives us different and rich consistent performances and I admire his versatility…. from singig Rossini, Puccini, Wagner… to Tchaikovsky. It is always a pleasure to watch and listen the beautiful voice of the always great Peter Mattei! His singing and also acting, specially in the final part was excellent! BRAVO, BRAVISSIMO Peter Mattei!!!!
Alexey Dolgov, his Lensky was adorable and very moving… Lensky is one of my favorite roles for a Tenor and Alexey Dolgov did a mangnificent job portraying the tender and heartbreaking Lensky and his Kuda, Kuda was absolutely heartbreaking!!!
BRAVO, BRAVISSIMO, Alexey Dolgov!!!!!!!!!!!!
Larissa Diadkova and Elena Zaremba were also magnificent as Filippyevna and Madame Larina! BRAVI Larissa Diadkova and Elena Zaremba!!!!
Elena Maximova was also very good as Olga and I loved her singing so much! BRAVA, BRAVISSIMA Elena Maximova!!!  And finally, what else can I say about the extraordinary Stefan Kocan who was, again I say it… magnificent as Gremin! His Gremin broke me in tears completely and I was completely destroyed after his performance! My heart was jumping of joy watching Stefan’s terrific Gremin… it was 8 minutes of pure gold, that I wished that were longer…. The 7, 8 minutes of Stefan’s poetic singing of what true love is… “Lyubvi fse vozrastï pokornï” were the 8 most beautiful, golden moments ever!!!
I was completely destroyed and in tears of joy and happiness!
How can I express my happiness  after watching Stefan Kocan’s glorious performance!!!!  I couldn’t sleep that night after watching and listening to a singing and acting performance which is out of this world, Stefan Kocan as Prince Gremin. Stefan not only word, by word sang beautifully “Lyubvi fse vozrastï pokornï” but Stefan also acted the performance with beauty, dignity, elegance and wisdom  The way that looked and smiled and touched Tatyana while singing was the perfect definition of true beauty!
And I am not the only one, in my Auditorium in Leon, Mexico, many people in my audience were also impressed and applauded so load after Stefan’s glorious Gremin’s Aria! And I am very proud and happy to say that Stefan, here in Leon, Mexico (and by reading many other comments, in other parts of the world, was the one who received more applauses and BRAVO, over Anna, Peter and Alexey, which they were also great! And at the end of the performance… I listened to a group of ladies that expressed that “The Voice that they loved more was… the Husband of Tatyana” …..
Watching  Stefan s Gremin in the Live in HD of “Eugene Onegin” from the Met , was a true privilege for all of us…. Stefan Kocan as Gremin, gave us the lesson of what true love is.. and he made the difference of Onegin! We all are so fortunate to live in this era of Opera because Stefan Kocan is making this era, a new Golden Age of Opera!
BRAVO, BRAVISSIMO, Stefan Kocan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And Maestro Robin Ticciati was also a joy for me to watch! I loved his conducting and he is a new treasure for the Opera world, I loved his interview and his passion and enthusiasm and love for what he does! The only bad thing is that his interview was a few minutes before the glorious Act III! I noticed that he had to rush quickly!  
And what else can I say about the glorius Met Opera Orchestra and the Glorius Met Opera Chorus? And also the Glorious Chorus made a huge important role in the development of the Opera… BRAVI Met Opera Orchestra, BRAVI , Met Opera Chorus!!! And BRAVO, Maestro Ticciati!
And I loved the interviews of Renee Fleming with her colleagues from “Der Rosenkavalier”, Elina Garanca and Günther Groissböck so much, I loved what she said about… nice to see you again so soon! (my memory is not good but something like that said ) and I loved the documentary of the Chandeliers so much and I also loved what Peter Gelb said about Placido Domingo… that he is indestructible!
Thank you Met Opera, for doing Eugene Onegin again… a lyric Opera full of beauty and wisdom…. with four characters that gives us lessons of life in different ways… Onegin, Tatyana, Lensky and Gremin. We all can learn from this characters and the consequences that they have, specially in Onegin and Lensky.
Eugene Onegin is a treasure of history of Opera… and I am so happy that many loved the new HD, even thought that many complained about it, a few months ago about having another HD of this timeless masterpiece.
Thank you, Tchaikovksy for bringing music to the novel in verse of Eugene Onegin!
(Here an image of the great Slovak Bass Štefan Kocán as Gremin in Eugene Onegin )

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