We love you Papa

>> Sunday, May 31, 2009

On this, the 200th anniversary of the death of Franz Joseph "Papa" Haydn, I would like to present this lovely video tribute created by the city of Vienna in honor of the occasion. There was perhaps no composer in Vienna who was loved more than Haydn.


Could it be Chopin?

>> Friday, May 29, 2009

Way back in 1973 when the soon-to-be great singer/songwriter Barry Manilow created his debut album entitled simply Barry Manilow, he included a piano driven number lifted straight from Chopin's Prelude no 20 in C minor called Could It Be Magic. The Julliard educated pianist went on to become one of the most popular and successful songwriters and entertainers in history and still performs in his own show at the Las Vegas Hilton as well as tours all over the world.

Presented are first, Chopin's Prelude no. 20 in C minor, (played by pianist Arthur Rubinstein), followed by the Chopin inspired Could It Be Magic, by Barry Manilow.


Speaking of beautiful...

>> Thursday, May 28, 2009

Celine Dion's early 1990's cover of Eric Carmen's All By Myself based on the second movement of the Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto in C minor is probably the most amazing cover of any song ever. I'm not a Celine lover by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to be dead not to be moved by this amazing performance.


The World's most beautiful music: Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 2, mvmt 2

The C minor has always been among my favorite of the Rachmaninov concerti, and the second movement is some of the most beautiful music ever composed. Played here by the fabulous Russian pianist, Evgeny Kissin with the BBC orchestra. Put your head phones on, lean back and take it in. You'll be glad you did.

P.S. I've added the video of Eric Carmen playing his 1975 hit ballad "All By Myself" based on the 2nd movement of the Rach 2, just for the fun of it.


The master of the duet at age 14

>> Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mitridate, re di Ponto (Mithridates, King of Pontus), K. 87 (74a), is an early opera seria in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto is by Vittorio Amadeo Cigna-Santi after Giuseppe Parini's Italian translation of Jean Racine.

Mozart wrote Mitridate while touring Italy in 1770. It was first performed at the Regio Ducal Teatro, Milan, on the 26th of December 1770 (at the Milan Carnival). The opera was a success, having been performed twenty-one times despite doubts because of Mozart’s extreme youth — he was 14 at the time. No revival took place until the 20th century. This opera features splendid virtuoso arias for the principal roles, but only 2 ensemble numbers: the Act II ending duet between Aspasia and Sifare (Se viver non degg’io), and the brief quintet that ends the opera.

Information source: Wikipedia

The following performance is by Yvonne Kenny, soprano, and Anne Murray, mezzo, (originally composed for castrato).


For Michael: "Der Rosenkavalier" the final trio

>> Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I learned that my dear friend Michael, (an old friend from college days), is absolutely crazy about this piece. Can't say as I blame him. So here it is, the final trio from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, featuring the talents of Felicity Lott, Anne Sophie von Otter and Barabara Bonney. This one's just for you, Michael! Enjoy!


Showdown: Barcarolle from "Tales of Hoffmann" by Offenbach

>> Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's one of the most memorable and loved of all operatic duets presented in concert by three different pairs of divas. You choose your favorite pair and tell us why you chose them. Enjoy!

Marilyn Horne & Joan Sutherland

Felicity Lott & Ann Murray

Anna Netrebko & Elīna Garanča


The World's most beautiful music: Mozart: Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben

>> Friday, May 22, 2009

Zaide is an unfinished opera, K. 344, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1780. Emperor Joseph II, in 1778, was in the process of setting up an opera company for the purpose of performing German opera. One condition required of the composer to join this company was that he should write a comic opera. At Salzburg in 1779 he began work on a new "rescue" opera, Zaide. It contains spoken dialogue, which also classifies it as a Singspiel (literally, "singing play").

Rescue operas were popular at the time, since Muslim pirates were preying on Mediterranean shipping, particularly to obtain female, and male slaves, for various purposes. This story represents a reversal, as Zaide goes to save her beloved, Gomatz. Ludwig van Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, is cast in the same mold, with spoken dramatic dialogue, although it is a husband (a political prisoner) who is saved from death in a Spanish prison.

Mozart was composing for a German libretto by Johann Andreas Schachtner, set in Turkey, which was the scene of his next, completed rescue Singspiel (Die Entführung aus dem Serail). Sadly, he would soon abandon Zaide, to work on Idomeneo, and never returned to the project. The work was lost until after his death, when Constanze Mozart, his wife, found it in his scattered manuscripts in 1799. The fragments wouldn't be published until 1838, and its first performance was held in Frankfurt on January 27, 1866. Zaide has since been said to be the foundations of a masterpiece, and received critical acclaim. The tender soprano air, "Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben" is the only number that might be called moderately familiar.

Information source: Wikipedia

The following performance is by Soprano Sandrine Piau, Christophe Rousset Festival de Saint-Denis, Basilica of Saint-Denis, 2003


The 400th Anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's Sonnets

>> Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yesterday was the day, and I missed it, but I still wanted to offer up something in celebration of the occasion, for the sonnets of Mr. Shakespeare are among my very favorite of his writings. The following is a lovely piece, read by the one and only Alan Rickman, Shakespeare's Sonnet number 130.


Shameless plug

>> Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I had to feature this video I found on YouTube because it's of a very dear friend and college classmate. His name is Arnold Rawls and he has one of the sweetest tenor voices I've ever heard. Since our college days he has made quite a name for himself on the professional opera circuit. The video I'm featuring here is Arnold in several clips from the Floyd opera, Susannah. Well done, Arnold!


What opera most resembles your life?

>> Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shakespeare said that all the world is a stage. And then there is the saying which goes, Opera is life. Then if this is so, which opera best represents your life?

Mine is Die Zauberflöte

Steph's is Der Rosenkavalier

What's yours?


Showdown: When I am laid in earth from Purcell's Dido & Aeneas

>> Saturday, May 16, 2009

I've presented three very different performances of Purcell's heart-breaking aria "When I am laid in earth" from Dido and Aeneas. Choose your favorite and tell us why you chose it.

Emma Kirkby

Janet Baker

Jessye Norman


Friday Jazz: Astor Piazzolla

>> Friday, May 15, 2009

The one and only Astor Piazzolla live from the 1984 Montreal Jazz Festival playing Muerte Del Angel. Just WOW!

Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992) was an Argentine tango composer and bandoneón player. His oeuvre revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. An excellent bandoneonist, he regularly performed his own compositions with different ensembles.


Cross over, Grandma

>> Thursday, May 14, 2009

I learned last night that my 97 year old grandma died peacefully in her sleep, early in the evening. She was born in February of 1912 and was only around seven weeks old when the Titanic sank, and five years after Oklahoma became a state. I have the fondest memories of her when as young children, my brother and I would go to our grandparents' farm and spend weeks during the summer. They had an old Victorian house with a big wrap-around porch and a huge oak tree in the front with a tire swing, a red barn with cats, a garden, and ponds stocked with fish.

Grandma is home now with Grandpa and her daughter, (my mother), and I know they are happy to see her. Thank you Grandma for all the love you gave when you were with us. We'll be seeing you again soon.

Ellen Mae Cole Goss
February 22, 1912 to May 13, 2009


Indescribable: Kiri te Kanawa sings Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise"

>> Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Words simply can't describe how gorgeous this is. You just have to listen.


The World's most beautiful music: Anna Netrebko sings Bellini's Casta Diva

>> Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One of my favorite sopranos sings one of my very favorite arias.


Ich liebe dich, Herr Mozart

>> Monday, May 11, 2009


When the children are asleep: from "Carousel"

>> Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to all!


A funny thing happened on the way to the train

>> Friday, May 8, 2009

More than 200 dancers performed their version of "Do Re Mi" in the Central Station of Antwerp. With only two rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! The four fantastic minutes started the 23rd of March 2009, 08:00 AM. It was a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they were looking for someone to play the leading role in the musical The Sound of Music.


Mozart showdown #2: The battle of the Contessas

>> Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who's heart doesn't break for the Contessa when she enters singing Porgi Amor in the opening scene of Act II of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro?

Today I'm presenting three such heartbreaking performances by three different, but all wonderful Contessas. After you listen to all three, pick your favorite and tell us why she won your heart.

Renee Fleming

Gundula Janowitz

Kiri Te Kanawa


To my visitor from France

>> Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm so glad that you're enjoying my blog - so much so that today alone you've logged nine different visits, one had 8 page views and another had 5. What is it about my posts on Nancy Storace that has you so fascinated that you would return so many times in one day? If you really want to learn about her here's a link to my website on her life and career with loads of information. But that's not exactly what you're looking for, is it? Twice now you've tried to outclick on my link to my "So Faithful a Heart" blog. (So sorry mon petit chou, but you have to be invited to read that blog, and I don't think I'll be inviting you any time soon. You'll just have to wait until the book is published.)

In the meantime you might enjoy this. (I know you love Mozart.) Va te faire foutre, connasse!


Now is the month of Maying: Thomas Morley

This is probably one of Morley's most well-known madrigals, and most often performed at this time of year. It depicts the ancient Celtic traditions of Beltane, or the rites of spring and mentions a game called Barley Break from which we probably get the term "roll in the hay".

Barley-Break is an old English country game frequently mentioned by the poets of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was played by three pairs, each composed of a man and a woman, who were stationed in three bases or plots, contiguous to each other. The couple occupying the middle base, called hell or prison, endeavoured to catch the other two, who, when chased, might break to avoid being caught. If one was overtaken, he and his companion were condemned to hell. From this game was taken the expression "the last couple in hell," often used in old plays.

Its use in literature usually has sexual connotations. The best known example is in Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's play The Changeling, in which an adulterer tells his cuckold "I coupled with your mate at barley-break; now we are left in hell". The use of the phrase in Thomas Morley's madrigal Now is the Month of Maying probably means something similar to the idiom "roll in the hay".

Information Source: Wikipedia


My castle in Scotland

>> Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The following is of recorded scenes of the countryside and grounds surrounding Drum Castle, my ancestral home near Aberdeenshire, Scotland. When I found this yesterday on YouTube, I sat and bawled like a baby as I watched it. Such a lovely place!


It's May!

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

One of my very favorite numbers from Camelot! (And no one sings it like our fair Julie Andrews!)



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