Hi everyone, after starting my previous blog, I realized I should have a special one for opera and maybe throw in a bit of classical in there too. I've considered myself an "advanced beginner" for a long time, knowledge-wise about opera and I don't ever want to stop learning. This blog will be a shameless self-indulgent one, filled with my personal favorites: from song cycles to arias, to classical songs and may throw in a bit of lyrical variety. I
hope you enjoy my choices, if you enjoy opera and feel free to let me know if you have your own favorites. Thanks for indulging me! Take care and hugs to all, sincerely, Sylvie <3

 

 

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Comment by sylvie boisvert on December 11, 2014 at 4:07pm

Hi everyone, today I will share something a little different, but a wonderful surprise a friend shared with me. Here is the description on the video page:

“Starting with a single cellist on the floor of the National Air and Space Museum's "Milestones of Flight" gallery, and swelling to 120 musicians, The U.S. Air Force Band exhilarated museum visitors with its first-ever flash mob. The four-minute performance featured an original arrangement of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring/Joy to the World," led by the band's commander and conductor, Col. Larry H. Lang. Unsuspecting museum visitors including tourists and school groups were astonished as instrumentalists streamed into the gallery from behind airplanes and space capsules, and vocalists burst into song from the Museum's second floor balcony.”

Now here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cKE8pyfcZc

Can you imagine being witness to that live? It’s already overwhelming on video and I’ll bet the place was vibrating! Anyway, hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

 

Comment by sylvie boisvert on December 9, 2014 at 2:56pm

Hi everyone, I’d like to share something I heard  on the radio yesterday. It’s a cute and light piece, but with enough texture to be satisfying. It’s like  having a small chicken rap at lunch: satisfying but not over-filling... :D Here it is, English composer Benjamin Britain “Simple symphony”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSh7X4RJp40

The adagio around 7:35-7:40 they call “sentimental saraband” is very nice. Hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on November 12, 2014 at 5:22pm

Hi everyone, I have an interesting  bouquet of vibrant melodies I’ve gathered over the past few weeks from my weekend radio seminars and thought I’d press them between the pages of your mind. :D First, a luscious and lyrical suite by Gabriel Fauré called “Pélléas et Mélisande, suite op 80”, not to be confused with Claude Debussy’s operatic version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm-Iwi3zVWY

Debussy’s version is beautiful also, but it’s more like, what I call “musical prose”. Next, here’s one that brings up images to your mind right away, Camille Saint-Saëns, “Aquarium”, part of his “Carnival of the animals”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6RBf_j5Y7A

I dare you to close your eyes, listen to that one without seeing goldfish and guppies fluttering around... :D  Ah, the next one you have most certainly heard and will recognize right away, Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt incidental music, suites 1 and 2”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_C2iRD9SLA

This is apparently Grieg’s most popular piece, though he never wanted to write it. According to Ben Heppner, Grieg resisted writing music for the play “Peer Gynt”, saying he hated it. I’ll spare you the colourful images Mr Heppner conjured up with Grieg’s statement about it that would evoque fertilisation for spring instead. XD Anyway, my last pretty melody is a sweet lullabye from a seldom performed French opera “Le consul” by composer Gioncarlo Menotti:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stcocrzMW9s================

A sweet fragrant little touch to wrap up this entry, hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on October 30, 2014 at 4:31pm

All right people, well, I just went on another unexpected walkabout on YouTube and came across this pretty amazing ensemble called the Piano Guys. I haven’t done enough research yet, but they sound like a fun upcoming young group of  musicians, mostly cellists. The first video I came across was this one:

Nearer my god to Thee with 9 cellos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gosY-UrpHcA

Then, this one really grabbed my attention, “Cello wars” by the Piano Guys:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgAlQuqzl8o

lol They seem to mix and match pop tunes with classical pieces and their videos score in the millions of views. This is a really fun and exciting find! They’ve just released a new album called “Wonders” 3 weeks ago. I’ll update you when I find out more. Thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on October 30, 2014 at 4:29pm

Hi everyone, well simply to prove a point and to have you share my goosebumps, here is Gounod’s “Ave Maria” sung by Marie-Josée Lord, enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TouF5Uy0Voo&feature=youtu.be

Thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on October 30, 2014 at 2:06am

Hi everyone, today, I have to tell you about my beautiful Marie-Josée Lord’s latest CD called “Amazing Grace”, which is a holiday/gospel album she released yesterday. You can listen to samples here:

http://www.archambault.ca/qmi/navigation/catalog/product_generic.js...

Now I know I am bias but I’m afraid it’s difficult being objective with such a wonderful voice. :D Here is the track listing:

1. The Holy city

2. Ave Maria (Gounod)

3. Notre Père (The Lord’s prayer)

4. Couldn’t hear nobody pray

5. He’s got the whole world in his hand

6. Mary had a baby

7. Amazing Grace

8. Ain’t got time to die

9.  Minuit Chrétien (O Holy night)

10.  Pietà signor

11.  Noël blanc (White Christmas)

12.  Ma Maria

It’s tailor-made for her: a bit of traditional, a bit of classical, a bit of gospel and the last song being traditional with a twist, since it’s traditional African. I must say the last one was surprising and I may need a few more listens, oh dear... XD But seriously, I love this lady’s voice and had goosebumps throughout the first listen. Marie-Josée said it didn’t sound like a Christmas album and aside from the organ, “White Xmas” and “O holy night”, she’s right, but a   bit of different sound around the holidays just might be what the doctor ordered. I’ll need to listen to it a few more times for favourites, but at first listen, “Ave Maria” and “The Lord’s prayer” are definite winners and it was just great to hear a recording of  “Amazing Grace”, which she’s been singing in recital since the first one I attended. Sorry for not being able to be objective, but I hear that reviews say “It’s a must!”... XD That’s it for now, thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on October 12, 2014 at 5:50pm

Hi everyone, thanks to Mr Heppner’s “Backstage” program on CBC Radio 2, I got a whopper of an entry today. It’s all about the notable highs and lows in opera. I want to focus on only 1 aria for each. These are so crazy extreme, you have to wonder what the composer was thinking.  The  first one, which was played on the show yesterday, is an aria from Bellini’s opera “I puritani”, a bel canto opera, so you know  it’ll contain vocal acrobatics and the high-flying aria is called “Credeasi, misera!”, sung here by the maestro, my buddy Luciano Pavarotti:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCIAplvjUKs

the  high F is at 4:55 and even the maestro sings it with a touch of falsetto, so you know that it’s almost impossible!  Now of course, I had to look up whether anyone else was able to achieve it, so here’s what I found. First, Lawrence Brownlee, with high F at 4:32:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-hOMA5oNLw

He does hit it shortly and not surprisingly. The next one, Alfredo Kraus, hits it at  4:50, but the sound quality is a bit muffled:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAfk5GYqfwo

Of course, I had to check it out by my miraculous Juan Diego Florez and was  very surprised to hear he never did hit the high F. However, listen to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EQK_WURmVo

I read the first comment on this video, suggesting that he never did, but I whole-heartedly agree with the author. The way Mr Florez sings it is like a flower blooming at sunrise,opening one petal at a time...  (sigh) This next perfectly flung one by Nicolai Gedda, with high F at  4:54 is delightfully executed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w_TTK7UP1c

I remember my buddy Luciano being asked what he was thinking, while he performs these notes that defy the laws of nature. He said you can only prepare for them and then, just let it go: it’s like a divine intervention. What else is there to say? :D Okay, to help us  get back down to earth, let’s explore the other end of the spectrum: the low F. Aside from Russian operas containing notes that challenge the hold on your bodily functions, which I couldn’t report on, for the unfortunate fact that I can’t remember the titles, I think I’ve picked an equally  merit-worthy mention. The following is from Verdi’s “Rigoletto”, the assassin Sparafucile aria “Quel vecchio maledivami”, sung here by bass Cesare Siepi and the low F is at the complete end:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcvO0G-upV0

Just in case this wasn’t enough to rinse your ear’s pallet, here’s a fun collage someone labelled a “Bass cage match” for the  low F:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xt06ZnV-u8

Wow, that’s about all I can take for today! :D Thanks very much for indulging me, thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on October 10, 2014 at 4:07pm

Hi everyone, I’ve just been made aware that sound samples of soprano Marie-Josée Lord’s upcoming Christmas album called “Amazing Grace” are finally available here:

http://www.atmaclassique.com/Fr/Albums/AlbumInfo.aspx?AlbumID=1517

It’ll be out on October 28 here in Canada and not a moment too soon! Thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on October 10, 2014 at 3:43am

Hi everyone, has it ever happened to you that a song or piece you’ve heard 8 billion times suddenly hits you in a completely new and unexpected way? Well it happened to me just this morning. As much as possible, I try not to repeat exact same renditions on my blogs, so I double-checked it and surprisingly, I hadn’t even posted a link to this piece at all. This is from the Camille Saint-Saëns  piece called “Carnival of the animals” and this excerpt is called: “The swan”, played here by cellist Mr Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Philippe Entremont:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmMAlLfwirY

I guess the planets were aligned this morning and it really stopped me in my tracks. The seemless way  Mr Ma plays it on this one feels smaller, closer, more intimate, as if he were playing it in one’s living-room, but the piano playing is what got me. It’s gently sweet, florid and yet delicate, it melts in your ear: simply gorgeous! I double-checked YouTube, to hear if I wasn’t imagining things and it had always been played this way, but indeed, this is, a very special performance. Incidentally, this version is on Mr Ma’s “Appassionato” CD. Thanks very much for letting me share this beautiful jewel, for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on October 1, 2014 at 2:34am

Hi everyone, today I’d like to share something I discovered last Thursday, which was apparently Glenn Gould’s birthday: September 25. They were having a celebration on the “Tempo show on CBC Radio 2. One piece that caught my attention was this following one:

JS Bach piano concerto in E major bwv1053

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp81bl_pPuA

That’s Johann Sebastian Bach, not to be confused with his 2 sons Johann Christian or Carl Phillip Emmanuel. I keep thinking I’m not exactly fond of straight forward piano music, but I’m guessing it’s more of a matter of not having found the right piano music. I couldn’t find the 1st Bach piano concerto played by Glenn Gould so I’m sharing this one. This one is played with a much lighter touch than Mr Gould, though still very nice. I enjoy that it’s in a major key and it takes me somewhere and tells me a story. I’ve found that Mr Gould’s playing sounds more energetic, from the few I’ve heard and it’s interesting. I think I’ll check out his Bach first and go from there. Being a Canadian artist, the CBC falls over themselves praising him, but there just might be something to this... :D I’ll let you know if I deepen my research. Thanks for reading and listening, sincerely, Sylvie <3

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