Happy 204 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”….

Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”.

On this day, February 7th but in 1812, Charles Dickens, one of the greatest, most respected and most loved writers of English literature was born. His short stories, novellas and novels are a treasure.
“A Christmas Carol”, “Oliver Twist”, “Great Expectations”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, “David Copperfield” (not to confuse with the famous magician, of course, LOL!!!!!! ) “Hard Times” and of course, “The Pickwick Papers” are the most famous works of Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was a social critic and it is reflected in many of his works (And also, “David Copperfield” is the most autobiographical of his works)
The opening lines, in which I quoted above, of “A Tale of Two Cities” (along with Don Quijote de la Mancha) are, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest of history of literature.
And for curiosity, just like Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Victor Hugo many of the works of Dickens had many, many, many film adaptations. I lost the count of the number of the many film versions of both “A Christmas Carol” and “Oliver Twist” and the same with Great Expectations (in which my favorite adaptation was the Disney Channel mini series with Anthony Hopkins as Abel Magwitch) and A Tale of Two Cities.
Happy 204th Birthday, Charles Dickens!!!

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Remembering Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)

In this month of January we lost many talents, another one, and one of the greatest in Music was French Composer and Conductor Pierre Boulez who recenly passed away at age 90 .

The musical legacy of Pierre Boulez is huge and It will take long to name the many wonderful contributions for music that Maestro Pierre Boulze made. As we all know, Pierre Boulez was very well known for his performances of such composers  like Mahler, Debussy, Berg, Bruckner, Bartók, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern and Ravel.   It is also known that Pierre Boulez Boulez also instigated the building of the complementary of Cité de la Musique, in Paris. I am sharing here one of my favorite memories of Maestro Boulez. One of my  favorite moments of Pierre Boulez was his “then controversial” and now famous Wagner’s Ring Cycle at Bayreuth back in the 70s and 80s with the direction of the also now gone Opera and Film Director Patrice Chereau.  I consider this Ring production as revolutionary (not only because of the story adaptation) but also in many ways, in music, in acting and of course, in conducting. For me, this “Ring Cycle” adaptation is a great triumph for Opera and for making excellent modernizations. But the audience in that time was divided, while one part of the audience applauded the “Industrial Revolution” adaptation of Wagner’s Ring, the other part of the audience booed. Now, this performance is a classic and it is now considered, by many both in musical conduction (Pierre Boulez) and also in Direction (for Patrice Chereau) as a modern masterpiece and it is at the top of the list of “most to see Opera productions”.

Here are the videos of Wagner’s Ring Cycle production at Bayreuth with Maestro Pierre Boulez conducting:

Das Rheingold  (Complete)

 

Die Walküre, part 1

 

Die Walküre, Part 2

 

Siegfried, Part 1

 

Siegfried, part 2

 

Götterdämmerung (complete)

 

Rest In Peace, Pierre Boulez

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115 Death Anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi

Remembering the extraordinary Giuseppe Verdi on his death anniversary.

January 27th is a “bittersweet” day for music, in one side, we celebrate Mozart’s Birthday, in the other hand, we commemorate Verdi’s death anniversary.
What would be Opera be without Verdi’s brilliant music? Italy’s history wouldn’t be the same without the life and works of Verdi, without the haunting chorus like “Va, pensiero” from Nabucco, (and today, the world wouldn’t have the “Va, Pensiero” chorus to make protests in public!) we wouldn’t have a “celebrating brindis song” like the “Libiamo” from “La Traviata” to celebrate every New Year or a Birthday, we wouldn’t have a “Triumphal March” to celebrate a victory, people wouldn’t whistle to “La donne e mobile”, Victor Hugo’s “Le Roi S’ amuse” wouldn’t have music with “Rigoletto”, Otello, wouldn’t have a Storm chorus, King Philip wouldn’t have a beautiful and sad monologue, we wouldn’t have a brilliant “Terzetto” in the middle of a storm, many of the characters from literature wouldn’t have music to their voices, “to sing”…. “Triboulet”, “Saltabadil”, “Don Carlo”, “Macbeth”, “Lady Macbeth”, “Otello”; “Yago”, “Desdemona”, “Don Alvaro”, “Ernani”, “Il Grand Inquisitor” “Violetta” (Marguerite Gautier in the book) and more…
It would take a long post for me to name all my favorite Operas of Verdi, my favorite musical moments, my favorite performers and etc.
My life wouldn’t be the same without Verdi’s Operas.
I have many favorite musical moments from Verdi’s Operas that I want to share here… one of them, one of the scariest actually, and one of the most unforgettable, is the entrance of Il Grand Inquisitor in “Don Carlo”, never in my life I have listened to the most frightful music than in Don Carlo with the entrance of Il Grand Inquisitor! King Philip’s Monologue “Ella Giammai M’amò”, “O Carlo, ascolta” and ” Nel giardin del bello” also from his grand masterpiece, “Don Carlo” are also in a very important place in my heart. The “Terzetto”, from Rigoletto is, in my opinion, one of the greatest and most Electrifying moments of history of music, the same with the Storm Chorus of “Otello”, everytime I live a Thunderstorm, I always think and remember the “Terzetto” from Rigoletto and the Storm Chorus from “Otello”. The presentation of Sparafucile in Rigoletto is also one of my all time favorite musical moments. Cortigiani, vil razza dannata and Pietà, Signore also from Rigoletto is also in my list of my favorite moments of Verdi’s music because of its dramatic moments. Actually, the entire Opera of Rigoletto is one of the most amazing musical experiences that I have ever lived. Di Due Figli, Miserere, Il balen del suo sorriso and Di Quella Pira in “Il Trovatore” are also part of my favorite musical moments of Verdi.  Verdi changed the history of Opera (and also Wagner, of course!) and many of us wouldn’t know the many brilliant performances of many of our favorite Opera artists, without the life and works of Verdi.
And the same with the Opera Houses around the world, the Opera Houses wouldn’t have a lot of public without the works of Verdi.   I will share here the most famous and most moving chorus from a Verdi Opera… “Va, Pensiero”
VIVA VERDI!!!!

 

 

 

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Happy 260th Birthday, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!

“Mozart was the Shakspeare of music; and as long as the immortal bard is read, Mozart will live in the admiration of mankind. He has reached the passions through the ear as Shakspeare did through the mind, and no works will live that do not touch the passions and the heart — they are the same in all ages, and will make Shakspeare and Mozart a poet and a composer – For all time -. The New-York Mirror”…

“Listening to Mozart, we cannot think of any possible improvement.”
George Szell.

“Mozart in his music was probably the most reasonable of the world’s great composers. It is the happy balance between flight and control, between sensibility and self-discipline, simplicity and sophistication of style that is his particular province… Mozart tapped once again the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breath-taking rightness that has never since been duplicated”.
– Aaron Copland

“Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”…. Joseph Haydn

Happy 260th Birthday Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart! Alles gute zum Geburtstag, Mozart!

(Don Giovanni with Ruggero Raimondi)
(Le Nozze di Figaro with Hermann Prey, Kiri te Kanawa, Mirella Freni and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau)
(Don Giovanni with Peter Mattei, Bryn Terfel, Anna Netrebko and Stefan Kocan)
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Happy 75th Birthday, Placido Domingo!

On January 21th, one of the greatest Tenors of the History of Opera, Placido Domingo celebrated his 75th Birthday.

 

 

Placido Domingo is one of the most important Tenors of the last 55 years and he is probably the Tenor who has the biggest and most respected repertoire.

Placido Domingo has performed in all languages, Spanish, English, French, German, Italian and Russian and we must say that Placido Domingo is breaking the world record guinness of performing all operatic roles (and also considering his recent repertoire as a Baritone!) and all Operas of all composers in history of Opera.

Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, Massenet, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Berlioz, Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Meyerbeer, R Strauss, Ponchielli,  Giordano, Rameau, Bizet, Gounod, Cilea, Mussorgsky, Lehár, Poulenc, Weber, Albéniz, Handel, Beethoven are the many, many composers that are part of the extraordinary repertoire of Maestro Placido Domingo and….

Otello (in which Placido has been acclaimed as the greatest Otello of his generation) Samson, Cyrano, Hoffmann (Just like with Otello,  Maestro Domingo has also been acclaimed for many Opera Lovers as the greatest Hoffmann of his generation), Siegmund, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Walther,  Alfredo, Manrico, Caravadossi, Rodolfo, Don Carlo,  Don José, Canio, Turiddu, Des Grieux, Radames, Dick Johnson, Riccardo/Gustavo, The Duke,  Pinkerton, Calaf, Lensky, Andrea Chenier, Almaviva, Don Alvaro, Ernani, Devereux, Roméo, Faust, Macduff, Werther, Tannhauser, Idomeneo, Nemorino, Florestan, Pablo Neruda and Hermann (just to name “a few”) , are the many, many Opera Tenor roles that Placido Domingo has performed.

Simon Boccanegra, Giorgio Germont,  Rigoletto, Macbeth, Conte di Luna, Gianni Schicchi  and Nabucco are his Baritone roles of his new Baritone repertoire.

Placido Domingo has been critically acclaimed for both of his vocal and acting performances and Maestro Domingo has also contribuited a lot for the Opera with the creation of hiw world wide Opera contest “Operalia” in which supports the careers of many new young Opera singers. Also, Placido Domingo is conductor and director of the LA Opera and if this it not enough for his brilliant and very versatile Opera career, also in many world wide different concerts, Placido Domingo has been working as an Orchestra conductor. but we must remember, that besides of being an extraordinary Opera artist, Placido Domingo is also a wonderful human being in which he gave a lot of humanitarian work for many different tragedies like the famous and now historical Earthquake that destroyed Mexico City in 1985,  in which Placido himself cancelled his Opera performances and came quickly to Mexico City to help the victims of the earthquake.  Placido also helped again to Mexico, with the disaster of Hurricane Pauline in 1997.  Placido Domingo has also performed many concerts in benefit of the poor, of the children and many other things.

In the history of Opera, there are a few Opera artists that have made history, Enrico Carusso, Maria Callas,  Franco Corelli, Kirsten Flagstad, Alfredo Krauss, Tito Gobbi, Cesare Siepi,  Renata Tebaldi, Giuseppe di Stefano, Leonard Warren, Robert Merrill, Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, Sherrill Milnes, Leo Nucci, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Montserrat Caballé, Ruggero Raimondi, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Boris Christoff, James Morris, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov and… Placido Domingo has joined this list of inmortal Gods and Goddesses.

Feliz Cumpleaños, querido Maestro Placido Domingo!!!!

Happy 75th Birthday, dear Maestro Placido Domingo!

 

 

 

 

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In Loving Memory of Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

Rest in Peace, to a magnificent Actor, Alan Rickman

worldculturalcenter

Today, the world of acting lost a giant, an extraordinary actor, a favorite villain for many Die Hard fans, the favorite Wizard for many Harry Potter fans, the perfect gentleman for many Jane Austen admirers…… the incredibly talented Alan Rickman, who unfortunately passed away today at age 69.

Rest in peace, to an extraordinary Actor who will be terribly missed. We will never hear to his elegant and distinguished voice again.

Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman.

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Sherrill Milnes and James Morris

I want to make a quick Happy Birthday tribute to two of my all time favorite gentlemen of the Opera… Baritone Sherrill Milnes and Bass James Morris!!!

I have seen many wonderful classic Operas from the MET and many of them were with these two magnificent Opera singers… Sherrill Milnes and James Morris and that is why both of them are very important for my Opera life experience.

James Morris is my all time favorite Wotan from Wagner’s Ring Cycle and he is also my favorite Hans Sachs from Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.  He is also a terrific Scarpia in Tosca, an excellent Iago in Otello, a wonderful Commendatore in Don Giovanni and a marvelous Inquisitore in Don Carlo.

Sherrill Milnes is one of the greatest Baritones and he gave many terrific performances in such Operas like Il Trovatore, Aida, Don Carlo, Tosca, Otello, La Fanciulla del West, La Forza del Destino, Luisa Miller and Ernani. In other words, Sherrill Milnes is very famous for being a perfect Verdi (and also Puccini) Baritone and he performed many famous “Baritone-Tenor” duets along with the famous Tenors Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

 

Tribute to Sherrill Milnes. This is a video in which shows the greatest performances of famous Baritone Sherrill Milnes:

 

 

James Morris  performing Wotan’s Farewell in Wagner’s Die Walkure. For many, including myself, James Morris is one of the greatest as Wotan of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Here is this unforgettable moment frm Die Walkure:

 

 

Happy Birthday to Baritone Sherrill Milnes!

 

 

Happy Birthday to Bass-Baritone James Morris!

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