Feb 14, 2021Liked by Opera Daily


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Feb 15, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

I am enjoying your delicious Valentine's Day treats, starting with Jessye Norman singing “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” (“Softly awakes my heart”) from Saint-Saëns's "Samson and Delilah". 

After listening to John Fisher 's Master Class with Angela Kim, I gained new respect for the making of an opera singer, as well as for Ms. Kim's talent. I do wonder, though, about nature vs. nurture when it comes to cultivating opera talent. Specifically, what factors influence people to train the voice for opera, rather than jazz, Broadway, etc. There may be as many answers as there are singers and voice teachers, but opera has not been as readily accessible or popular as other genres of American music.  Please ask your next interviewee when and how s/he knew it would be opera or answer it about your own career.

Meanwhile, Maria Callas in both the Act 1 Finale (Judgment)[https://www.youtube.com/watv=cH_Fw_MOxjM] and the Act 2 Finale (Mad Scene)

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkMf_aaxfz4] of "Anna Bolena" -  conveyed convincingly the humiliation, anger, fear and dread the doomed queen undoubtedly felt as she learned of the betrayal of Henry VIII with her own lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, and his plot to execute her. The dark side of romantic love is never celebrated on Valentine's Day, but we know it exists in life and in art.

I couldn't help but think about the many women who have been slaughtered by husbands and boyfriends who feel it is their divine right to kill an inconvenient woman.  

Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church because the Pope refused to grant him a divorce. He founded the Church of England and made himself, and every British monarch thereafter, its titular head.  Henry VIII elevated his  licentiousness and crimes to entitlement. It's still hard to stomach, some six centuries later, that a murderer and an adulterer became the founding father of the Anglican Communion. 

Patriarchy, gender inequality and domestic violence have deprived too many women of their voices, free will, financial agency and lives. Anne Boleyn, whose story is commemorated in Gaetano Donizetti's "Anna Bolena" is an immortal immorality tale and Anne Boleyn is a tragic reminder that women's rights must be defended as human rights.

Okay, I'm getting off the soapbox 💔- for now. 

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Mezzo soprano Kate Aldrich is our next interview coming up, so we will ask her! I imagine the path for many to opera is different, but mine was through the junior high school choir door. I joined, and my teacher noticed that I had some talent, so she threw some solos my way and recommended that I take some lessons. I ended up going to study with a Juilliard-trained opera singer, so her technique was classical. While I sang some musical theater pieces, it felt like the recommendation from many was to get a young singer to learn how to sing FIRST then go to specific styles and repertoire. I imagine some in my position would have gravitated to musical theater, but I move into the classical realm. And then the rest is history.

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Feb 16, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

We are all so lucky that someone saw and cultivated your gifts. I'll bet no one foresaw the paths it would open up for you after the foundation was laid. That was all your doing! Kudos to singers, teachers and, especially, to moms like Barbara Serro👏❤.

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Feb 21, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Today was my day to take a deep dive, heart first, into Gaetano Donizetti's "Anna Bolena". I chose this production (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSpvmKHRJx4) with Dame Joan Sutherland, Susanne Mentzer and Samuel Ramey before I knew of the others recommended in the full opera category. Having read that she is the most acclaimed singer of the bel canto repertoire, I felt another full opera would help me gain a better appreciation for why  Sutherland was called  "La Stupenda", "La Superlativa", and the "Queen of Bel Canto". I didn't find the last full opera I watched, "Semiramide, satisfying partly because I found the ending disturbing. I did love this production of "Anna Bolena", though.

Donizetti filled this opera with beautiful duets and choruses. Knowing the history beforehand enabled me to forego imagery and listen more closely to the music. I found “Dio, che mi vedi … Sul suo capo”, moving and provocative in the two interpretations featured here (Leyla Gencer and Giulietta Simionato, Anna Netrebko and Elīna Garanča). This has to be opera's most glorious catfight.  Each of the characters moved me along her emotional continuum in song. Anna seemed to go from unknowing, to shock, to reproach, to anger, to acceptance to forgiveness. Giovanna went from secrecy, to betrayal, to confession, to shame, to self-reproach and unworthiness as to Anna's forgiveness. Then shamelessness replaced all of that as she realized that the queen's impending death would elevate her to the throne.

Poor Anna Bolena. Of her it could have been said, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?" Then again, some might argue, "All's fair in love and war." Henry VIII, however, will always be a pig in my book.  

I will bookmark your other versions of "Anna Bolena" for future reference.The next time I can set aside 3-4 hours to savor a full opera, it's likely to be "Maria Stuarda". "Tancredi" is also a carryover from a past list.

Finally, the "23 Sopranos" hitting high D was simply amazing.  I will listen again so I can review the whole list and write down the names. I also appreciated being introduced to Samuel Ramey and Jerry Hadley😭.

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