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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

Today

Berlin mezzo dies, at 69

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discA member of the Berlin State Opera from 1987 until illness enforced her retirement in 2009, Rosemarie Lang was a regular performer in a highly competitive ensemble. He roles included Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito by Mozart, Romeo in I Capuleti od I Montecchi by Bellini, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini, Octavian in Rosenkavalier and Clairon in Capriccio. Kurt Masur selected her for several recordings. Rosemarie died on January 12, aged 69.

Guardian

January 15

Cello Unwrapped: Alban Gerhardt, Aurora Orchestra; Christophe Coin – review

Kings Place, London The year-long Cello Unwrapped season got off to an exhilarating start with Alban Gerhardt and Christophe CoinThe big “what ifs” of music are mostly to do with loss. What if Mozart had not died young, Beethoven had kept his hearing, Chausson hadn’t ridden that bicycle into a wall? Occasionally a chance gain, if of a more isolated kind, grips our imagination. Had the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) not been medically unfit for military service in the first world war, one of the greatest modern works for solo cello, his Sonata Op 8, might never have been written.Alban Gerhardt played this three-movement epic as part of a spirited launch event for Cello Unwrapped, the latest, ambitious year-long series of the kind Kings Place favours. With the main hall’s seating capacity only around 400, big concerto repertoire is out. Here is a chance, generously taken, to delve wider, deeper, more intimately. If your interest is to trace this most soulful instrument’s history, from coarse bass violin to poetic musical orator, you can: the programming of the year’s 45 concerts could hardly be more diverse, inside and outside the western tradition, embracing tango and electronics, Indian and mainstream classical. Instruction is only an add-on: concerts of musical coherence are the imperative. Bach is always there at the heart, his six unaccompanied suites a shapeshifting presence across the entire series (with the special draw of that ever great exponent David Watkin, exploring these work, and the art of continuo playing, across the weekend of 22-23 April). Continue reading...




Guardian

January 12

Mozart: La Clemenza di Tito CD review – Allemano and Aldrich shine in otherwise undistinguished reconstruction

Allemano/Bernsteiner/Aldrich/Solvang/Academia Montis Regalis/De Marchi (CPO)Even by Mozart’s standards, La Clemenza di Tito was composed in haste, commissioned for the celebrations in Prague marking the coronation of Leopold II as king of Bohemia in September 1791. The opera seria libretto was adapted from a well-used text by Metastasio, and the secco recitative might well have been composed by one of Mozart’s pupils, but after his death later the same year, it became one of his most widely performed operas. Among the many stagings was one in Vienna in 1804 for which the court music director Joseph Weigl took it upon himself to insert new material: replacement arias for Tito, as well as a duet for Tito and Sesto. Two of those numbers Weigl composed himself, another was by the Bavarian composer Johann Simon Mayr, while the others remain anonymous.That’s the version of La Clemenza di Tito that has been reconstructed by conductor Alessandro De Marchi and recorded from stage performances at the Innsbruck early music festival in 2013. Weigl’s editorial work is not a travesty, but it’s not particularly distinguished either. Apart from De Marchi’s rather extreme tempi, both fast and very slow, the most striking aspects of the performance are the singing of Carlo Allemano as Tito and Kate Aldrich as Sesto, and the instrumental playing by the members of Academia Montis Regalis, particularly its clarinettist. Continue reading...



Royal Opera House

January 11

Girls being boys being girls: a short history of opera’s trouser roles

Matthew Rose as Baron Ochs and Alice Coote as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, The Royal Opera © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore The trouser (or breeches) role – a young male character sung by a woman – has been part of opera since its early days. And the role type has flourished since, in a variety of contexts. In the 18th century, the bulk of heroic male roles were written for soprano or alto castratos – but the trouser role was never just a ‘castrato substitute’: Handel ’s Radamisto and his heroic adolescent Sesto in Giulio Cesare are the most famous examples. Towards the end of the century, Mozart became probably the first composer to recognize the trouser role’s erotic potential, with Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro . His adolescent passion for Countess Almaviva is made all the more risqué by the fact that the lovesick page is sung by a woman, and Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte have additional fun when Cherubino dresses up as a serving maid. As castratos became a dying breed in the early 19th century, mezzo-sopranos increasingly took on Italian opera’s heroic lead male roles. Rossini wrote several principal breeches roles, including the title role of Tancredi and the soldier Arsace in Semiramide . Donizetti also created a few, although he tended to demote his trouser roles from heroes to sidekicks – as with Maffeo Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia , or Smeton in Anna Bolena . The tradition reached its culmination in 1830 with Bellini ’s Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi ; the virtuoso writing for mezzo-soprano perfectly expresses the hero’s youthful ardour and impetuosity. Over in France, 19th-century grand and comic opera alike saw an explosion of trouser roles: chiefly pages and lovesick adolescents. Although they were rarely in the first rank of dramatic importance, they were usually given beautiful arias, such as Ascanio’s ‘Mais qu’ai-je donc?’ in Berlioz ’s Benvenuto Cellini or Siébel’s ‘Faites-lui mes aveux’ in Gounod ’s Faust . The page-boy became such a popular character type that composers even added them to scenarios, as with the invented Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette , with his lovely aria ‘Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle?’. In French comic opera, a girl could even play the hero on occasion, as with the title role of Massenet ’s Chérubin , or Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon (a nod to pantomime’s Principal Boy tradition ). In 19th-century German opera, trouser roles were usually limited to children and supernatural beings, such as Puck in Weber ’s Oberon . Two notable exceptions were the young warrior Adriano in Wagner ’s Rienzi , a virtuoso role modelled on Bellini’s Romeo, and the flamboyant Prince Orlofsky in Johann Strauss ’s Die Fledermaus . But the the trouser role really came into his own in Germany from 1890 to 1930, with a number of feisty boy characters including Humperdinck ’s Hänsel and the Schoolboy in Berg ’s Lulu . Meanwhile in the former Czechoslovakia Janáček created one of the most poignant breeches roles in his 1930 opera From the House of the Dead: the boy prisoner Aljeja, described by the composer as ‘such a tender, dear person’. But before this, in 1911, came Octavian in Richard Strauss ’s Der Rosenkavalier , perhaps the greatest trouser role of all. With this young nobleman, in love with an older woman, Strauss fully exploits the breeches role’s capacity to convey youth through the high female voice, and also its slightly risqué sensuality, particularly in the opening scene with Octavian and the Marschallin in bed. He playfully draws attention to the trouser role’s inherent artificiality by having Octavian dress up as a girl. And he provides one of the most satisfying portrayals of late-adolescent love through Octavian’s stunning duets with the Marschallin and Sophie, and the sublime trio for all three characters in Act III. Small wonder that in his next opera Strauss insisted on writing the ardent male Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos for mezzo-soprano. His breeches roles are a crowning glory of a distinguished tradition. Der Rosenkavalier runs until 24 January 2017. Tickets are still available. The production is a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York , Teatro Regio, Turin , and Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires , and is given with generous philanthropic support from the Monument Trust, Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Susan and John Singer, the Friends of Covent Garden and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund .

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756 – 1791)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 - 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Mozart composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers. Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood in Salzburg. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of Mozart's death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons. Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate. His influence on subsequent Western art music is profound. Beethoven wrote his own early compositions in the shadow of Mozart, of whom Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."



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