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February 2014
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Archive for February, 2014

Renata Scotto: A Retrospective

Renata Scotto as Tosca, Lyric Opera of Chicago, 1987; c. Tony Romano

According to friends, this Italian diva who dominated the stage for 40 years, doesn’t look back. The word is, she doesn’t even own a piano.

Her 1960 American debut as Mimì at Lyric Opera of Chicago began an incredible 50 year relationship (and counting) with that company; she directed Lyric’s 2007 production of La bohème

WOW, It’s Wotan: Eric Owens Impromptu

American bass-baritone Eric Owens

Richard Wagner is like the Texas of composers: everything is bigger; the concepts, the casts, the orchestras, the duration, and especially the voices. Only the largest, most heroic voices dare to sing Wagner. We have one of those tremendous singers in Chicago this month. Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Wotan-to-be, king of the gods

Frenchmen on the Morning Show

Charles-Marie Widor

While his ballets and operas might not be the most famous things going today, Delibes’ Flower duet from Lakmé is huge. You can find recordings with dozens of famous opera singers, or with Charlotte Church, as a ringtone, flutes only, a Flower duet mixed with ocean waves, a classical remix

The Originality of Charles Ives

Charles Ives

As a youngster, Charles Ives became a church organist in his hometown of Danbury, Connecticut. His dad had been a bandmaster during the Civil War, and continued afterwards as a civilian. Young Charles was used to hearing the cacophony of musicians tooting various passages through their instruments before and after rehearsal—New England folks may not have expected

Medieval Villages, Early Music


The Pyrenees town of La Pobla de Segur was granted its first charter in 1363, though locals trace their history back to the mid-twelfth century. It’s one of 22 communities who celebrate their heritage through the Festival de Música Antiga dels Pirineus—notice the name is not quite Spanish, it’s Catalan which evolved from Latin during the middle ages and is a co-official language of Catalonia

Web Exclusive with Alek Shrader

American tenor Alek Shrader

Lyric Opera keeps touting the movie star good looks of their Almaviva, tenor Alek Shrader. His Rosina, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, aint s’bad either. It does make a more perfect theater piece—if not more believable—to watch two beautiful people wangling to be together. What sets this spectacle apart from the Hollywood variety

Don’t Miss: Impromptu with Eric Owens

Eric Owens c. Dario Acosta

[Thursday at 3:00 PM] He’s on the CSO’s calendar for Beethoven 9 with Muti, and has already been cast as Lyric Opera’s Wotan for a Ring cycle, one that’s only just hitting the drawing board. It might be said things are going swimmingly for Eric Owens.

In town to sing Vodnik the water sprite

Opera Singers As Motivational Speakers?

Eric Owens and Ana Maria Martinez addressing high school students, c. Andrew Cioffi

Lyric Opera’s new ambassadors are delivering a message that goes deeper than listening to music: art can heal a community. On their first day, Lyric Opera’s newly named community ambassadors burned the script on typical in-school performances, and the kids are listening.

Rook Live on Dame Myra Hess Concert


Founded by trombone player Paul Von Hoff, Rook gives early music some extra zing, switching out antique instruments, blending flashy virtuosity with musical colors from a distant time. They have a terrific website for the musically curious, including digitized scores of some of their own reconstructions of early music

Antonio Vivaldi: Beyond Four Seasons

Grand Canal, Venice

Can you imagine a time when Vivaldi wasn’t the world’s most popular composer; before the wine commercials, yoga CDs, and Classical hits records?

Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi was utterly obscure after his death. His revival began with a 19th century revival of J.S. Bach (due in part to the work of Felix Mendelssohn). A few scholars wanted to know more about the Italian composer who had been so influential on the German master