Ernesto de la Peña, the Mexican Pico della Mirandola

Yesterday, Nov 21th, was the Birthday anniversary of the most high cultivated man of Mexico, the extraordinary Ernesto de la Peña. He was a man who knew 33 languages, knew almost everything, history, Opera, music, languages, art, philosophy, Ernesto de la Peña was called “A Renaissance Man”. I learned so much from him and his books, he had a television program dedicated to Opera, “Operamania” and a special Radio program in which Ernesto talked all about literature, art history, languages, opera and music. It was a huge joy to listen to him on the radio, he talked about Victor Hugo, Rabelais, Octavio Paz, Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Cervantes, the classical and modern languages, Plato, Aristotle, Hipatia, Elizabeth Barret Browning and etc, etc. He was a treasure for Mexico and humanity.
For many he was the Mexican Pico della Mirandola.


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Felicidades, Congratulations to Mexican writer Fernando del Paso, winner of the Miguel de Cervantes Prize 2015!!!

Congratulations to Mexican writer Fernando del Paso for winning the “Miguel de Cervantes Prize”!!!
The Miguel de Cervantes Prize is the most distinguished prize in Spanish Literature and it makes us, the Mexicans, very proud, that the winner of this year is the extraordinary writer Fernando del Paso, author of many important novels and essays, like “News from the Empire” (Noticias del Imperio) Fernando del Paso is 80 years old.
¡Muchas Felicidades, Maestro Fernando del Paso!


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Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz…. National Day of the Book

On Last November 12th, in Mexico, we celebrated  the National day of the book, in honor of the birth anniversary of the greatest female poet of the history of Mexico…. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Sor Juana is also considered as the “first feminist” of Mexico (in her time, Mexico was “The New Spain”) and her poems were revolutionary, her finest poem is “First Dream” or simply “the Dream” (Primero Sueño o simplemento “El Sueño”) one of the longest and most sophisticated poems in the history of Spanish literature. “First Dream” is a philosophical-cosmic poem in which Sor Juana expressed about the “quest for total knowledge” and in which Octavio Paz (Mexico’s only Nobel Prize in Literature) compared her famous “First Dream” in his famous essay about Sor Juana (Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz y las Trampas de la Fe) to Mallarmé’s (also sophisticated poem) “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard “.
In the Spanish language, Sor Juana’s poetry (specially the already mentioned “First Dream”) has been often compared to the poems and writings of Luis de Góngora y Argote (One of Spain’s most famous poets of the “golden century of Spanish Literature”). Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was born on November 12 of 1651, she had a huge passion for learning and studying (in a time where education was forbidden for women) and she was called… “The Tenth Muse.” She learned how to read and write Latin at the age of three. In words of Ernesto de la Peña (One of the most brilliant erudites of Mexico) he compared the genius of Sor Juana to Mozart’s. Many scholars, intellectuals, both Mexicans, Americans (like Dorothy Schons, from USA) and also Europeans (Like Marie-Cécile Bénassy-Berling, from France and Ludwig Pfandl from Germany) made important studies about Sor Juana, her brilliant work and life. Because of her love for reading, writing and for her brilliant contribution to Spanish Literature, it is the reason, why, in every November 12th, in honor of the birth of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexico celebrates, “The National Day of the Book”.

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Festival Internacional Cervantino 2015

The Festival Internacional Cervantino 2015 has just begun on Oct 7 with Chile, Colombia and Peru as guest honor countries and the Mexican State of Morelos as “Guest of honor state”.

The Festival Internacional Cervantino is in the city of Guanajuato, Mexico, a small colonial-historical city with a large cultural scene.   The origins of the festival are from the mid 20th century, when short plays by Miguel de Cervantes called entremeses (singular entremés) were performed in the city’s plazas.  Since then, FIC has grown to become the most important international artistic and cultural event in Mexico and Latin America, and one of four major events of its type in the world.  The best of all arts, music, opera, ballet and visual arts are shown in this now famous festival in which in this year we will have the visit of the extraordinary Russian Bass Ildar Abdrazakov who will perform in the historical Teatro Juarez.

Attending to many of the marvelous, cultural events in the Cervantino is a huge delight not only for the Mexicans but also for the international turists that visit Guanajuato city in Mexico. And the city itself, is a cultural adventure with its beautiful and historical buildings and wonderful museums, one of them, the Iconographic Musem of “Don Quijote” (El Museo Iconográfico del Quijote)

The Festival Internacional Cervantino will end on Oct 25.

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Today is October 10th and it is the Anniversary of the Birth of the greatest Italian Composer of history of Opera…. Giuseppe Verdi!

Considered the Giant of the Opera in the XIX Century Europe, (along with Richard Wagner) the works of Verdi are the most performed in all Opera Houses around the world.

After the reign in the Italian Opera Scene with Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi became the most important Opera composer of Italy, in which later, Giacomo Puccini became his successor.

Verdi composed 25 Operas…….. and many of them, Nabucco, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore (these three, last mentioned  operas are known as the “Trilogy” Verdi) , La Forza del Destino, Don Carlo (in Which I consider his major masterpiece) Ernani, Luisa Miller, Attila, I Lombardi, Macbeth, Un Ballo in Maschera, Simon Boccanegra, I due Foscari , Les Vêpres Siciliennes, Aida, Otello and Falstaff are always a huge pleasure to listen, for all Opera lovers around the world.  The Operas of Verdi are essential, (almost all of his 25 Operas!) and it is always normal to see one, two, or more than 5 of his brilliant Operas, being performed in many Opera Houses at the same time.

All people around the world can recognize many of the marvelous melodies of Verdi’s different operas, from “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici partitura” (The Famous “Brindisi”) from La Traviata, “La Donna È Mobile” (from Rigolleto),  Aida’s Triumphal March, the “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore  and… the glorious “Va, Pensiero” (From Nabucco and which is for Italy the sencond National Anthem) and never get tired of listen to those glorious, arias, duets, and chorus over and over again.

The beautiful music of Verdi became the “music” for the “words” of many of the most famous works of literature in which many of his Operas are based on and with the musical composition of these magnificent dramas, Verdi became a master of the Dramatic art on stage.

“Rigoletto” is based, of course in Victor Hugo’s “Le Roi s’amuse”, “Ernani”, based, again in Victor Hugo’s play “Hernani”, “Don Carlo” is based on Schiller’s Play,  “Luisa Miller”, based again on the Schiller play “Intrigue and Love“, Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff, based on Shakespeares’s works,  “I due Foscari” based on Lord Byron’s historical play “The two Foscari” and “La Traviata” based on La dame aux Camélias, the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils.

His other major work, (NON-OPERATIC) is of course, his REQUIEM, which is a masterpiece of sacred music and  which is also very constantly performed around the world.

Enjoy the glorious music of Giuseppe Verdi, a giant of the Opera!!! Without his glorious music, live, wouldn’t be the same!

Listen to Part one of Verdi’s Opera Gala, with Ruggero Raimondi, Daniela Dessi, Barbara Fritoli, Jose Carreras, Leo Nucci, Marcelo Alvarez and Jose Cura.

And here is part two of this amazing Verdi Opera Gala with Ruggero Raimondi, Daniela Dessi, Barbara Fritoli, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Leo Nucci and Marcelo Alvarez.

And, also listen to Verdi’s other masterpiece (non-operatic) his majestic “Requiem”… and I highly recommend this historical recording with Herbert von Karajan conducting at Teatro alla Scala and with Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, Nicolai Guiaurov and a very young Luciano Pavarotti.  This is, in my opinion, the greatest recording og Verdi’s Requiem.

And, just for an example of how the music and many different operatic voices singing at the same time, expressing the drama in that powerful moment, take a look to the famous “Quartet” from Rigoletto:

And also the famous Terzetto also from Rigoletto with Giulietta Simionato, Cesare Siepi and Hilde Güden: (The famous and dramatic scene of Maddalena/Sparafucile/Gilda)

VIVA VERDI!!!!!!!!

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Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize in Literature 2015

“for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

Well, the time has come, we are back in October, the month that we always receive the big announcement of the new winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The time has arrived, today, Oct, 8th, 2015,  I received with joy the marvelous news, the announcement of Svetlana Alexievich as the Nobel Prize in Literature 2015.

But, just like many readers, I was wondering if Haruki Murakami was finally going to win the Nobel Prize, well, now we know that… it happened again.  (Murakami didn’t receive it and even in the social Networks people made some jokes naming Huraki Murakami the “Leonardo Dicapro of the Nobel Prize”. )

Well, let’s get back with this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature 2015, in which I received the news with joy and I will explain later why. Svetlana Alexievich is a Belarusian journalist and author who has covered the Chernobyl catastrophe, the Soviet war in Afghanistan and many other events related to the horrors of war and the dark side of human being.   In an interview that I read about Alexievich, 12 years ago, and that stuck in my head for a long time, she said these exact words and it is for reflection…. “How much of Humanity is in (Inside) the human beings”? And her own answer was…. “I come to realize that the human beings have little of humanity, just a little layer of humanity but we must defend and protect that little layer of humanity in these times of horrors”….

Through her books, Svetlana Alexievich builded a mosaic of the Russian culture in the XX Century, World War II, the  invasion to Afghanistan,  the Fall of the Soviet Union, the Chernobyl disaster, just to name a few.

“It gets me sad to know that my books are still Actual because it means that nothing has changed, I wrote my books for the reason to not to have more wars”…. this is what Svetlana Alexievich said in the 2003 interview.

More closer to Dostoievsky than Tosltoy, Svetlana Alexievich  has said that ““I’ve been searching for a literary method that would allow the closest possible approximation to real life. Reality has always attracted me like a magnet, it tortured and hypnotised me, I wanted to capture it on paper. So I immediately appropriated this genre of actual human voices and confessions, witness evidences and documents. This is how I hear and see the world – as a chorus of individual voices and a collage of everyday details. This is how my eye and ear function. In this way all my mental and emotional potential is realised to the full. In this way I can be simultaneously a writer, reporter, sociologist, psychologist and preacher.”

And one of her  inspirations as an author, was Belorusian writer Ales Adamovich, another extraordinary Belarusian author whom his works also had an antiwar humane  stance and his writings received translation into over 20 languages.

These are the most important books that all people should read of the new Nobel Prize in literature 2015….Svetlana Alexievich. Please, take note and write these list of titles for your next books to buy and read.

War’s Unwomanly Face

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Zinky Boys: The Record of a Lost Soviet Generation

“I’m just trying to grasp a piece of reality and tell who we are and where we are going.” —-   Svetlana Alexiyevich

Congratulations  Svetlana Alexiyevich, a very courageous, intelligent woman who deserves all our respect, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2015!

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Viva Italy! Italian Opera at the MET Opera Season 2015-2016

The Met Opera Season 2015-2016 just opened on last September, Monday, 21th and it began with Verdi’s masterpiece OTELLO with  Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role, Željko Lučić as Iago (whom we had the pleasure of watching him in the title role of Macbeth last year at the MET) and Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona whom I am very sure we will hear more in the future with her splendig, beautiful voice.

What pays my attention (and many other Opera lovers and followers of the MET) is that in this new Opera season at the MET, the first 4 Operas of this season are,  Italian, (Italy, the cradle of the Birth of Opera, of course!) all different yet all marvelous and with incredible performances from many Opera singers.

This four jewels of Italian Opera that we had the pleasure of listening in these last weeks were: The already mentioned Verdi’s OTELLO, Puccini’s final masterpiece TURANDOT,  Verdi’s majestic “IL TROVATORE” (which marked the grand return of  the wonderful baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky as the Count di Luna… I will comment more details about his return later) and Donizetti’s historical drama “Anna Bolena”.

Many of the performances of the Opera artists in this year’s MET season were incredible. from Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Il Trovatore, to Sondra Radvanovsky, Jamie Barton and Ildar Abdrazakov in Anna Bolena to Christine Goerke, Marcelo Alvarez and veteran James Morris  in Turandot.

I am very glad to comment that it was a huge pleasure for me to listen to these four wonderful Operas on the MET Opera Radio (And also watching  Il Trovatore MET in HD simulcast last Oct 3 in which I will gladly comment later in another post!) and in these last weeks it was a magical journey to the most beautiful, exiquisite music with the most beautiful voices.

More about the first four Italian Operas of this MET Opera Season later….

A Poster announcing the new MET opera Season 2015-2016, here, Aleksandr Antonenko as Otello. And here, below, another poster announcing  the MET grand premiere of Donizetti’s “ROBERTO DEVEREUX” with Sondra Radvanovsky and Matthew Polenzani.

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