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OperaNow! #230: I'mma Let You Finish but Joyce DiDonato...

Julius Rudel concert set to benefit NYCO Renaissance...Protestor storms The Met stage...The show goes on in Donetsk...Critic responds to critics.

This week Oliver's Corner is feeling lazy and celebrates Black History Month but one has nothing to do with the other.

Plus Guess Who Died?

This week features Michael, The OC and old pal, David Gordon (not THAT one).

Reader Comments (7)

Opera is for happiness and the thrill of seeing art. It does not mean you have a heart.It will not soften your heart if it is uninformed of today's earth dying as we speak, nor the human condition, overall, of ALL poor classes. No one is informed about earth and humanity today who does not know the desperation both are in. By all scientific measurements,the world will be unfit for human existence by 2100AD. Opera will not help with that problem.
"Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt" by Chris Hedges provides irresistible proof of the facts.
February 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertracy
Can't argue with that.
February 11, 2015 | Registered CommenterMichael Rice
"... and bow out if they're not so good. AHAHAHAHAHA." - Oliver, it's so great to hear your beautiful laugh again.
February 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCraig
If you're looking for someone to add to a segment with Meesha and Lawrence Brownlee, please add Russell Thomas to the mix. He saved our "Norma" out here when the original tenor, Marco Berti, withdrew after 2 performances. He goes for it all and has beautiful, ringing tone. He's a frequent performer at Seattle Opera and Canadian Opera Company, and at ROH.
February 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCraig
I don't know how long they have been casting that way, but there is usually a 1-3 year lag. If you have a breakout star who impresses everyone in a role debut then you can expect them to be back at the house in the same of different role in about 1-3 years. If nothing is planned 5 years after the debut then something must have broken down communication wise.

The Latonia Moore recording was interesting, but the way she chopped up that iconic climax made her sound like a novice -- that is just not how it has the be sung by an A list Aida. The Met keeps engaging Liudmyla Monastyrska and she sings that part correctly.

As for the Bass, Soloman Howard, I saw him last year in La Traviata as The Doctor. The Doctor is such a small role and his voice didn't have that much impact on. Physically, he is tall and very handsome and that is what stuck wit me the most. It wasn't until I heard him a few months later in an interview with Juntwait on Met Opera radio that I realized how deep his speaking voice is. I can't remember which broadcast it was but his speaking voice was great even over the airwaves. He has the kind of voice where he was meant to sing, but he is also tall, handsome and athletic so he can really do anything he wants.

I remember Pretty Yende from her debut as Le Comte Ory. I read that she is studying Lucia with Mariella Devia. I hope that if she is still working with Devia she can learn something about Italian phrasing. She can sing high notes so that makes her a coloratura soprano, but I think she needs to learn more about phrasing and expressing the text because when she sings all I hear is the technical stuff she is doing and I am never drawn in so that I want to hear more. I am seeing Yende as Susanna at LA Opera next month.

I can't think of any more new black opera singers who are starting their careers like these artists. I know there are black opera singers, but I am talking about stars. Right now the Eric Ownes (who everyone on this problem seems to have a problem with), Brownlee, and Yende are the stop black opera stars. I don't know where Latonia Moore will end up but she sings Aida a lot.
February 12, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterzach
I see Craig has already mentioned Russell Thomas. Indeed he was the COC's Hoffmann a couple seasons back and will be returning for Don Jose next season. He has a beautiful, technically secure voice and his French diction was very good. Quite a big sound - not dramatic tenor (yet) but very suited to the heavier French rep. Measha doesn't sing much opera it seems - just in Madrid! In Canada she has built a very interesting, independent career, organizing her own tours and recordings; doing some jazzy cross-over type stuff. She built her name up in the Canadian media quite a bit a few years ago and seems to ride on that as much as her singing. As for other black-North American singers...when I started getting into opera Leona Mitchell was basically singing all the Verdi and Puccini at the MET, then she sort of disappeared - I read a profile of her not too long ago and I think she mentioned having to look after her sick mother etc. but I have a feeling there were also technical issues that crept up. Another black American singer who seemed to be going places with big engagements and recordings was Michele Crider - but now I don't see her name anywhere.
I totally agree with Michael re: the way-ahead planning cycles. I read somewhere that it kind of started big time in the 80s with the whole three tenor phenomenon. That is, when some of these opera singers became big superstars and the larger companies wanted to make sure they got a slice of the pie. Initially I think it was really just the big companies (MET, Covent Garden etc.) that went in for that, but as we see today, pretty well every large and at least medium sized company has followed suit. It doesn't leave a lot of room for flexibility for sure. But, I have to say that medium sized companies do tend to cast the less-than-title roles a little more spontaneously - e.g. the Zerlinas and Masettos etc., perhaps waiting to see if one of their young artists might be able to step up to the plate. I like *not* knowing all the future casting for the companies I follow, but increasingly with the spread of info being so easy, there are fewer and fewer secrets!
February 15, 2015 | Unregistered Commentergianmarco
Judging from Rudolf Bing's memoirs, it seems like the Met has been planning 3-5 years in advance at least the '60s. I imagine it has mostly to do with locking someone with star power down for a particular role before a competitor can get them.
February 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy

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