Saturday, October 15, 2016
"Opera means passion, excitement and love, but like all great emotional experiences, it calls for a deeper understanding and needs to be constantly cultivated and nurtured. This is why for some years now I have not concentrated exclusively on performing opera but also on making it more widely known as well as strengthening its roots by searching out new singing talent, setting up new music institutions and becoming involved in operatic events aimed to have widespread public appeal."
Saturday, September 10, 2016
|Diana Damrau as The Queen of the Night|
This one should be on the list of Worst Operatic Moms or something. She literally tries to sell her daughter for power, which as far as I'm concerned she already has a lot of. Right? She didn't exactly cut the mustard when she showed the portrait of Pamino to Tamino because his love for her is basically what saved Pamina from her messed up mom and the weirdo Monostatos. (In truth, Papageno actually physically rescued her and Tamino took all of the credit, leaving Papageno to seem as the oaf of the story. Not cool.)
|Bryn Terfel as Scarpia|
Vitellio Scarpia from Giocomo Puccini's Tosca
He's really evil, but his leitmotif is the best. I don't think I'm going to write anything else for Scarpia. We all know that he's kind of an a**hole (I'm being as censored as possible), but the music that Puccini loftily set him to is intriguing, especially when the opening chord progression of Tosca is essentially Scarpia's leitmotif, foreshadowing the tremendous impact he will have on the fates of Mario and Floria.
Wurm from Verdi's Luisa Miller
This guy caused a chain reaction of doom with his weird love intrigues. A lot of people do this, even in our time. I won't say that he is directly to blame for Rodolfo and Luisa's deaths, per se; but he is essentially the initial cause of most of their internal and external conflicts. Wurm is similar to Count di Luna in that all of his not noble deeds stemmed from his everlasting love directed towards Luisa. However, he is on this particular list because he caused several unnecessary deaths (alla Scarpia) and got himself killed in the process (alla Scarpia). He also just seems much meaner than di Luna.
|Giuseppe di Stefano as the Duke of Mantua|
The Duke of Mantua from Verdi's Rigoletto
Best music, evilest character. I personally think that taking advantage of young girls and then shaming them before everyone is worthy of being labelled a villain. The result of this particular story is not solely his fault, but he plays a dramatic role in its outcome. It was his egotism and the overly-protective nature of Rigoletto that led Gilda to take desperate action to achieve something that probably wasn't even worth the trouble. The Duke should not be blamed for Gilda's desire to die for him. It's Rigoletto who decided to keep her cooped up her entire life and then show her how a hired murderer prepares to murder her only love. But the Duke is messed up, much like his morals, and is hereby officially granted the Worst Villain Award. Thank you.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
(Also, Mesphistopheles from Faust is NOT going to be on this list because it's not fair for all the other mortal villains. He lies on a totally different level of Villain and none of the other guys can compete with him. Sorry to all you Mephisto fans.)
This is Part 1 of my Operatic Villain posts, with the least evil characters featured.
|Luca Pisaroni as Count Almaviva|
Just a jealous husband. He literally has nothing better to do than to suspect his wife of infidelities, while he himself runs after any hoop skirt that passes by. I'm sorry if you don't know the plot of The Marriage of Figaro because it's absolutely AWESOME. Unfortunately I'm not motivated enough to summarize it in this blogpost, so google it or something. What's the worst thing he does? I'd say that sending a 13 year-old boy to army camp merely because you're way too jealous of your wife is kind of nasty. He's just a kid who is discovering life and sending him away because you consider him a threat to your marriage is silly. At least Cherubino should feel proud that Count Almaviva considers him a worthy opponent!
|Mariusz Kwiecen as Don Giovanni|
Don Giovanni from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni
Controversial. Very controversial. I found so many different opinions of Don Giovanni's evilness. (Once again, Mozart's operas are too complicated plot wise for me to go through the trouble of trying to explain them in a comprehensible way. Google is your best friend.)
From one side, Don Giovanni is pretty bad. Despite his seemingly harmless behavior, he basically stripped several noblewomen of the honor they carried and then added insult to injury if they called him out on it. From the other side, they fell for him themselves. He abused Leporello when he burned the midnight oil and forced his servant to stand guard outside in the cold while he "entertained" himself. Pretty bad. Zerlina's sexual assault is a little shaky because from what I gather it's not a given that he actually tried to do anything violent. Or maybe he did, I don't know. Wasn't there, sorry.
|Marco Vinco as Don Alfonso|
|Danielle De Niese as Despina|
Count di Luna from Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore
|Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna|
He desperately loves Leonora, but she's a weirdo who loves a gypsy troubadour, Manrico, who also happens to be Count di Luna's long lost brother! Manrico's so-called mother, Azucena, accidentally burned her own baby instead of a noble baby when she was avenging her mother's death. What? Count di Luna can't seem to get his useless army of soldiers to catch Manrico and Leonora, who manage to escape from him every single time. The power of true love? And then the count finally captures Manrico when he gets Azucena; and then he wants Leonora to give herself to him in exchange for Manrico's life, but she poisons herself instead. Running to Manrico, she tells him that he is free to go and he accuses her of being unfaithful but when she starts dying realizes that she literally gave her life for him and decides to stay in jail instead of running off. When he is executed, Azucena tells Count di Luna that Manrico was, in fact, his brother, and he believes her! What? Why? And while di Luna laments that now he'll have to live on while his brother and love are dead, Azucena cries out Mother, you are avenged! So where is the count's crime of evilness in this? All he was doing was protecting his family name and trying to get his crush to like him back, right?
Check out Part 2
Saturday, July 2, 2016
The Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra rounded off its 90th anniversary celebration with a Gala Concert on June 28, 2016, featuring world-renowned Armenian musicians under the baton of the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Maestro Eduard Topchjan. Solo performers were violinist Sergey Khachatryan, pianist Vag Papian, soprano Hasmik Papian, bass Barseg Tumanyan, and cellist Alexander Chausian.
In between numbers, photographs of past conductors and their performances were featured on an overhead screen, as well as photographs of musicians who had performed in the hall in the past. Also, President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia was sitting in a box seat!!
Orchestral pieces performed were Festive Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich, a wonderful opening to the evening, Symphony No. 2 by Aram Khachaturyan, and Saber Dance from Aram Khachaturian's ballet Gayane, which was performed as an encore and rounded off the evening with a big oompff!
Pianist Vag Papian performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, C-Dur, KV 467, Andante (2nd movement) and Allegro vivace assai (3rd movement). With his genius interpretation of Mozart's Piano Concerto he delved into the meaning of the music and let the listener hear beyond just notes and rhythms.
Soprano Hasmik Papian, my long-time favorite, idol, and hero, performed two arias, one from Giuseppe Verdi's La Forza del Destino and one from Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser, even though in the program Pace, pace mio Dio came first. I adore Hadmik Papian's timbre of voice and her virtuosic use of the crescendo-diminuendo effect. She also created powerful characters in both arias. In Pace, pace mio Dio she set up a peaceful mood even before she started singing, with her glorious stage presence. The heartfelt aria was an unforgettable performance.
Bass Barseg Tumanyan performed Les Toreadors from George Bizet's Carmen and Ella giammai m'amo from Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlos. Barseg Tumanyan's performance of The Toreador Song was both powerful and entertaining. The festive mood already created by Bizet in the music was wonderfully highlighted by Barseg Tumanyan. Just like Verdi should be performed, with strong emotional presence, Barseg Tumanyan stood onstage in the shoes of King Phillip and went through the same emotional storm as the character.
Violinist Sergey Khachatryan performed Rhapsody for the Violin and Orchestra by Eduard Baghdasaryan and Introduction and Perpetuum mobile for Violin and Orchestra by Eduard Mirzoyan. He also performed an encore piece before Saber Dance , but unfortunately I do not remember what piece it was. Both pieces on the program were performed with a shockingly high level of passion, and Sergey Khachatryan demonstrated his ability to combine virtuosic technique with strong emotional presence. His first piece was dedicated to violinist Anahit Tsitsikian, first renowned Armenian female violinist.
Cellist Alexander Chausian performed Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Alexander Chausian's performance was sensitive, displaying great technique and deep understanding of the music.
All of the pieces were conducted by Eduard Topchjan, who supported the soloists in every way possible. The balance he maintained throughout the entire performance within the orchestra itself and between the soloists and orchestra was superior.
I look forward to hearing all of these awesome musicians again!
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Saturday, March 12, 2016
were satisfied. Demonstrating her ability to perform complicated choreography and difficult vocals at the same time, Lucy depicted the sensual Sally Bowles persuading her multiple suitors to forget about her after the "fine affair" was over.
Tomorrow Belongs To Me, performed by the remarkable Daniel Mitchell, was a short, yet meaningful musical number. I especially enjoyed the echoey effect produced by the microphone during this musical number, foreshadowing the impeding doom the country was about to face. As the young, aspiring Nazi boy sung the song of his people, the Emcee covered the boy's mouth at the very end of the phrase "tomorrow belongs to me", pronouncing the words "to me" instead of the young boy. At this point, the thematic development of good versus evil became clear. The Emcee looks eerily wicked and the young German boy looks angelic and innocent, but the roles are actually reversed. As the concept of good and evil become commingled, it becomes hard to tell who is good and who is bad. This is done on purpose to demonstrate how the Nazis believed in their goodness. They are winning; therefore, they are good. But in reality, the Emcee represents the common people who would fight against the evil power, and eventually win; and the Emcee covering up the young German boy's mouth and pronouncing the words "to me" instead of him manifests this important theme.
Choreographer: Elizabeth Castenada
Musical Director: Erika Weil
Conductor: Brian Kohn
Technical Director: Paul Kwapy
Producers: Brian Kohn, Colleen Ivie, and The Friends of SOTA
Dialect Coach: Elizabeth Carter
Fight Choreographer: John Bailey
Costumes Department Head: Annette Ribeiro
Hair and Makeup: Jenny King-Turko and Susan Stone
Scenic Painting: Jay Kotcher
Consruction Supervisor: Stephan Gaudreau
Electrician: Brendan Peter Kierans
Visual Arts: Jeff Castleman
Publicity/Art Direction: Julie Glantz
Ambassador: Anne Yanow
Click here for a list of the performers.
Round of applause to the technical crew and orchestra!
Jia Lin Li on piccolo and flute; Georgia Chau, Sameer Elliot, Elijah Goldman, Moses Pippenger, and JP Wong on clarinet; Miles Haimovitch, Kenneth Roberts, and Keevan Tallon on saxophone; Nicole Anderson on oboe; Eli Isaacs and Max Braun on french horn; Ido Baruch, Daniel Goldman, Parker Rowe, Janis Sturmann, and Jamie Valtin on trumpet. Kieran Briden and Roman Kouznetsov on trombone; Redger Parker on percussion; Erika Weil on piano; Faith Lam and Lucy Nelligan on violin; Crystal Gong on viola; Isabel Dobrev and Atticus Simmons on bass; and Ruby Pruett on harp.
P.S. If you happen to attend one of the upcoming Cabaret shows, and I imagine you will, make sure to check out Cole Sisser's bio ;)