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Subject: Operacast highlights for the week of 6/28-7/4
From: "Charles H. Riggs, III" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Charles H. Riggs, III
Date:Sat, 28 Jun 2003 01:57:46 -0400

text/plain (224 lines)

Dear fellow opera lovers,

The following is intended to be a relatively brief and very subjective
discussion of the Operacast highlights available this week and listed on
site.  For Saturday, June 28th, the complete schedule listings are located
at .  In addition, for Sunday, June
29th, the complete schedule listings are located at .  And for Monday through Friday, June
30th through Friday, July 4th, the complete schedule listings are located at .

This overview is not intended to be an exhaustive or particularly scholarly
discussion.  Others can fill that function far better than can I.  Rather it
is my attempt to offer an accurate picture of how one dyed-in-the-wool buff
is reacting to the treasures available to us on the Web in the next seven
days.  Obviously everyone's tastes are different so some of you may be very
intrigued by my discussion below while others may be quite disappointed.
But whichever is the case, I am confident that if you look at the schedule
listings now available on our site at you will find a
few items there to satisfy and intrigue any opera buff.  So stop by, take a
look, and enjoy.

One other thing to bear in mind:  In the following discussion
I use Greenwich Mean Time as the standard.  This means that if I'm talking
about an afternoon broadcast Americans should realize that for them the
broadcast will be in the morning; if I'm talking about an early morning
broadcast that usually means that it will be available to States' siders THE

Here goes.

BBC Radio 3 offers an exciting and unusual item today, in the form of
Monteverdi's Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria.  Many consider this composer's
Orfeo to be the beginning of modern opera as we know it.  While Orfeo is an
exciting and ground-breaking endeavour, that does not mean that his other
operatic works are any less bold or exciting, and Ulisse contains some of
Monteverdi's most exciting music, in my opinion.  In addition, this
particular performance is graced by the talents of Kresimir Spicer in the
title role.  I have only heard this performer once, and in the same role,
which he appears to virtually own at the moment.  And that ownership is
well-deserved.  Spicer is the possessor of a superbly modulated dark tenor
instrument, and one capable of considerable dramatic and histrionic power.
I expect this item to be one of the highlights of our Saturday offerings,
and I recommend you try to make time to catch some of it.  GMT 1730
Saturday, 3 hrs., 30 mins.

Two singers of note appear in today's OperaCast of Dvorak's Wanda, Christine
Brewer, soprano, and Pavel Daniluk, bass.  I have never heard Brewer myself,
but I have heard very good word-of-mouth concerning her talents so I am very
curious about this performance.  In addition, Daniluk is an excellent bass
who was the one bright spot in an otherwise dreary Norma OperaCast some
weeks ago from the Cincinnati opera.  In addition, Dvorak, whose operatic
skills many are familiar with due to the lovely Russalka, has never received
sufficient exposure to most opera lovers for his talents in that area, and I
am sure Wanda will reveal some surprise treasures to those who choose to
listen.  GMT 1730 Saturday, 3 hrs. (Of the three streams available for this
performance I recommend NRK P2 as being the stream which combines the best
sound quality with more reliability than its NRK brother, Alltid Klassisk.)

A truly extraordinary performance of Bellini's Il Pirata can be heard on
several American stations today.  This was Renee Fleming's first attempt at
this fiendishly difficult role, the famous, some would say notorious,
performance from the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.  I have heard only the
last half hour of this performance and I can tell you conventional it is
In my opinion Fleming made a deliberate decision to throw caution to the
winds in this performance and skirt the edge of the artistic cliff
throughout.  It's as if she made a deliberate decision to attempt dramatic
and vocal feats which she knew were at the very edge of her capabilities
rather than performing the role in a way which maximized her artistic
strengths.  In a word, she decided to take one long risk in this
performance, almost, it seemed to me, out of boredom.  I find the experience
fascinating.  If you want to hear one of today's finest operatic artists, in
a wild and woolly attempt at experimentation, choose to explore
unconventional and sometimes questionable routes in an impassioned and
daredevil drive for artistic discovery, then this is your performance.  Not
for the faint of heart, and certainly not of consistent artistic value.  Her
later performances of this role at the Met were far more successful from an
artistic point of view.  But this Paris experience is certainly a riveting
and absorbing experience for the more courageous among us.  GMT 1730
Saturday, 3 hrs., 30 mins. (Of the various stations carrying this
performance, we recommend KVLU.  Also this performance will be rerun by DR
Klassisk on Tuesday at GMT 1800.  The latter stream is working fine too.
So if you miss today's OperaCasts of this performance you can always catch
it again Tuesday.)

One of the finest lyric tenors around today can be heard in a performance of
Beethoven's Fidelio today from the WFMT European Opera Series network.  I am
not familiar with any of the other performers in this recording of a live
performance from Stuttgart, but for Kaufmann alone I recommend you try to
catch at least some of the second act of this offering.  Kaufmann rarely
disappoints.  GMT 1730 Saturday.  (Several stations are carrying this
broadcast.  Since this series enjoys considerable popularity, I recommend
you keep a list handy of more than just the finest stream available  for
this performance as you may experience some difficulty getting in to some of
these streams due to crowding.  So the best streams, in order of quality,
are WUFT, WOI, KUAT (GMT 1900), KSUI, KCSC, KWAX (excellent stream; haven't
heard their WFMT feed).  Again please note that KUAT's OperaCast of this
performance begins 90 minutes later than that of the other stations.  In
addition, several stations are rerunning this program throughout the week
and next, starting with KUAC on Sunday, GMT 2000, KPBX on Thursday at GMT
0200 (Friday evening for Americans), and KING on Sunday, July 6th, at GMT
0100 (Saturday evening, July 5th, for Americans).  Of the three KUAC has the
finest quality but has suffered from transmission static lately, KPBX is the
second best but its streaming installation is undergoing renovation and may
not be up by Thursday, and KING is the least impressive sonically of the
three but is also the most reliable.)

Two of my favorite composers, Jacques Offenbach and Johann Strauss, Jr., are
being profiled on NDR Kultur today.  My limited knowledge of German prevents
me from providing more information than that with regard to the precise
format and/or content of the program.  But assuming my basic understanding
of the nature of the program is correct, this will be a delightful chance to
sample two of the most delightful and inventive composers of the last few
centuries.  If you appreciate the genius of a sparkling and imaginative
comic musical genius then this program is probably for you.  GMT 1800
Saturday, 4 hrs.

A rather good performance of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte is featured in a WICR
broadcast today.  It stars Barbara Haveman as Fiordiligi, with the excellent
talents of Olivier Lallouette as Guglielmo and Bruno De Simone as Don
Alfonso.  While Haveman's intonation occasionally is, shall we say,
inventive, there is no doubt on the beauty and expressiveness of the voice.
Lallouette is a real find, possessed of a warm expressive high baritone
perfectly suited to the Mozart baritone fach, while De Simone also brings
superb vocalism and musicality to the ambivalent figure of the Don.  GMT
1830 Saturday

A superb, exciting performance of Berlioz' Damnation de Faust with a
virtually perfect cast can be heard early Sunday morning (Saturday evening
for Americans) on Seattle's KING-FM.  This recording of a recent Belgian
performance features the ingratiating tenor voice of Jonas Kaufmann, the
peerless voice and musicality of Susan Graham, and that redoubtable lion of
bass-baritones, Jose Van Dam.  This performance has been OperaCast a few
times already.  But if you had not had a chance to enjoy it, take advantage
of this opportunity.  It is well worth the time.  GMT 0030 Sunday

One of the most exciting yearly operatic contests comes to a close on
Sunday.  BBC Radio 3 will be operacating the final round of the BBC Singer
Of The World competition in Cardiff, Wales.  The standards of this
competition are very high, in the two years I've listened to the finals I
have never been disappointed, and there is an electricity in the
performances which is quite special.   If you're interested in experiencing
the occasional thrill that comes from the discovery of truly extraordinary
operatic performers just beginning to make their mark on the operatic world
then this program is definitely for you.  GMT 1730 Sunday, 2 hrs., 30 mins.

On Sunday you will get an opportunity on Deutschlandfunk to listen again to
one of the recent performances of Rossini's Donna del Lago featuring the
exciting new mezzo discovery, Daniela Barcellona.  There are two such live
recordings floating around the European stations these days.  Unfortunately
this is the performance with the inferior tenor of Rockwell Blake.  Yes,
Barcellona is excellent here, and if you listen to this performance you
will probably not be greatly disappointed.  But keep your eyes peeled for
the other Barcellona performance featuring Juan Diego Flores.  Barcellona
is even better there, and of course there's no comparison between the dry
squally sound of Rockwell Blake and the extraordinary technical skill of
Flores.  Warning:  this Operacast is somewhat abridged.  GMT 1905, 1 hr.,
55 mins.

Early Monday morning (Sunday evening for Americans)  WHRB will be
broadcasting one of the more intriguing recent performances to come across
the streamways.  It is Donizetti's Lucie de Lammermoor.  Yes, Lucie.
Apparently this, in fact, represents Donizetti's most mature thoughts
concerning the opera, and it is in French.  It is a version of the work
which is largely unfamiliar to most opera buffs these days, even though it
in fact was quite popular during the latter years of the 19th century.  But
the more immature Italian version dominated the performance tradition of
the 20th century.  Now, finally, opera lovers have a chance to enjoy this
opera as Donizetti finally left it.  There are several noteworthy
differences between the two incarnations.  Most importantly, the parts of
Normanno and Alisa have been conflated into one evil, unreliable confidante
named Gilbert.  Also the entire Regnava Nel Silenzio sequence whereby Lucia
opens the second scene has been completely rewritten.  There is a new aria
in its stead, completely unrelated to the familiar Regnava.  Finally there
are delightful little touches throughout, evidence of Donizetti's great
care as he went about tailoring the work for French audiences.  As one deft
example:  Take a listen to the chorus at the end of the Wedding Scene,
right after Edgar (not Edgardo) accuses Lucie of betraying him.  The melody
is the same but the whole structure and feeling have changed due to the
inspired addition to the orchestral line of triplets.  The result conveys a
pulsating blood-boiling feel to the emotions of the protagonist and that
one change has the aptness of simple genius.  And so it goes throughout.
Personally I think it's an improvement.  The only thing I miss are
Raimondo's, now Raimond's, three arias.  As for this performance, it is
never less than good and sometimes it is inspired.  Patrizia Ciofi is an
easy B to B+ in the rule of the hapless heroine.  And the real standout in
this cast is an almost flawless Marcelo Alvarez as Edgar.  This may be
perhaps one of the finest Edgars/Edgardos/Edgardi(!) I have ever heard.
For Alvarez alone this is worth the listen.  GMT 0000 Monday, 4 hrs.

Early Thursday morning (Wednesday evening for Americans) we have a chance
to sample the operatic fare of one of America's most popular composers, one
who is not often associated with the operatic muse.  That composer is the
march king himself, John Philip Sousa.  The opera in question is, in fact,
an operetta, El Capitan.  Well, I've heard this piece.  It has some truly
delightful music.  The script however is an embarassment at several points,
almost childish in its leaden elucidation of the slow-moving and simple-
minded plot.  Be prepared to have your intelligence insulted.  However, if
you can swallow the insult, there is some delightful music to help the
insult go down easy.  If you don't mind turning your brain off, or at least
putting it on low simmer for a few hours, then there is much to enjoy in
this light-as-a-feather concoction.  GMT 0300 Thursday, 4 hrs.

Now if the above items intrigue and enthuse you, and you would like to know
what else is listed where they came from, then please feel
free to stop
by and pull up the pages containing this week's
schedule listings.

On the other hand, even if the above does not pique your curiosity I urge
you to
stop by our schedule listings and browse them.  I believe the chances are
that there will be items in there to interest every operatic taste,
regardless of my
personal preferences as exampled in the above list.  So please, browse,
sample, and enjoy!

Happy listening,


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