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 May 8, 2013 at 5:03pm

Hi all, today, I want to share my latest find. I’m still listening to my “Classical legends...” and loving it! Today’s discovery is Nicolai Gedda and this Swedish version of an excerpt from Adolphe Adam’s French opera “Le postillon de Longjumeau”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xknRlu92xdE

 It's a cute, light, operetta-type sounding one, with apparently, the highest recorded vocal note, (D above high C) but I'll need more research on that. Now here's Nicolai, singing in French, the beautiful “Je crois entendre encore” from “Les pêcheurs de perles” by Bizet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCImfJUFSf0

And since he has such beautiful French diction, here he is singing “Ah, fueyz, douce image” from Massenet’s “Manon”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYSf7rt-XXY

I love this aria by Roberto Alagna:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNaA3ieNF0Y

by Rolando Villazon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEzd96ZDFEQ

and Jonas Kaufman:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXoGfqpgky4

they all have their own understanding, delivery and personal touch, but all gorgeous! It’s difficult to pick a favourite, because it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Roberto’s French is perfect, Rolando’s passionate delivery  is something else and Jonas’ dark tone really made me notice him. They’re all great actors too. This entry is giving me many more ideas to share, which needs more research and preparation, so I’ll cut this one short for today. Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on May 7, 2013 at 3:56pm

Hi all, I hadn’t planned to post today, but was listening to a great EMI box set last night: “classical legends in their own words” and had to share this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-ytTesR96c

It’s the “Ave Maria” from Verdi’s “Otello”. On my CD, Mirella Freni was explaining that in this song, the character of Desdemona knows her husband is different than usual, perhaps dangerously so. She prays every night before bed, but right there, she really prays ardently because she’s fearing for her life. Mirella sings it so beautifully, so gingerly, though meaningfully, as if her tone said: I mean it now, you need to take care and keep me safe... It’s funny that in her manner, it almost feels to me as if she’s whispering, to go under the radar of the eminent danger, just wonderful... Mirella was my first Mimi from “La boheme” and she sings it so perfectly. I first bought the highlights, not knowing that most operas are at least 2 CD’s long. There are such beautiful arias like “Mi chiamano Mimi”,

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

the gorgeous, luscious, phenomenal  duet of “O soave fanciulla”, in 1969:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW0oWQUByxk

and then again in 1996:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPphaJPQ7EQ

Pavarotti and Freni: it doesn’t get better than this for “La bohème”. The high notes are of course sensational, but the soft quiet notes  are simply delicious. I’ll need to build a completely separate post for Pavarotti’s pianissimi, which, funny enough, was the first thing that attracted me to his gorgeous voice. Back to “O soave fanciulla”, here’s a different but still gorgeous approach from Placido Domingo and Monserrat Caballé, in 1972:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwq1f8qvBUg

I’ve heard that the Domingo/Caballé version is how Puccini wrote it. The final “Amor amor” are unbelievable and just to die for!

Another highlight is  “Donde lieta”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-1RzvRXbSw

...when Mimi and Rodolfo break up, “Sensa rancor”...  but the most poignant is at the end of act 4, called “Sono Andati”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm0qAgIL9cw

Ahh, that one slays me... Mimi is very sick and realizes she doesn’t have much time and there’s an urgency in the music, just before she an Rodolfo start reminiscing and I’m not even going to mention the heartwrenching finale! Oh heck, while I’m at it, I’ll throw in “Quando m’en vo” by Mirella also:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEK6qGa8z9Y

I found it by accident, I didn’t know if Mirella had sung Musetta. Can you tell that "La bohème" is my favorite opera? Wow, guess that’s enough for one sitting! Lol Again, thanks for reading, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on May 5, 2013 at 4:02am

Hi everyone, I did a bit more research on Dame Janet baker and did listen to some of her “Les nuits d’été” by Berlioz. Her voice is just gorgeous in it, clear and crisp, beautiful diction and control, but in my heart, it does not beat this version by Régine Crespin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umIRzW9DydU

This is part 3: “Sur les lagunes”. The entire song cycle is almost too beautiful for words and my absolute favourite. All the songs, the words and the technique sopranos have to use to master it is mind-boggling to me. On  “Sur les lagunes”, régine’s voice is ethereal at times, powerful at others, with mad control in the digressions of notes and the one word that slays me in the entire cycle is “linceul”, which she drops exactly at the right depth like a dollop of pudding... I’ve heard a few versions of this cycle and noone so far has sung that one word or cycle as perfectly as she has, not even the phenomenal Marilyn Horne: you just can’t fake it, it’s a miraculous musical moment in time... I find there are many in opera, but in song cycles: this one’s it! Thank you very much for reading, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on May 4, 2013 at 5:06pm

Hi all, well I was discussing mezzos yesterday and I discovered a new one to me, just last night! Well technically, some time last week. I heard the gorgeous voice of Dame Janet Baker singing an Edward Elgar song from "Sea pictures". This one is called "Where corals lie":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs_lmImzM0A 

I loved the box set I borrowed and will definitely look into more Janet Baker. I just found that she sang "Les nuits d'été" from Berlioz, so I'm off to get lost on YouTube! lol Next time, I'll try to find my favorite part from that by the incredible Régine Crespin. This is so much fun! :D Thank you for reading, sincerely, Sylvie <3 

Comment by sylvie boisvert on May 3, 2013 at 4:13pm

Hi all,  oh to be lost on YouTube... :D While researching counter-tenor arias, I came across several arias that can be sung by both men and women in "trouser" roles and boy is it easy  to spend months on YouTube... Anyway, I thought I'd now share THE mezzo performance you have to hear. This is Marilyn Horne singing "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" from "Samson et Dalila" by Saint-Saëns:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-GeziPGTKY

After listening to it, I checked the viewrs comments. One said: "Listening to Horne is like being taken to heaven" and another one said they couldn't imagine this aria being better sung and I agree. I just want to get lost in her tone and for that fantastic note to last 10 years... Gorgeous tone, gorgeous aria: best mezzo-soprano performance ever! JMO Thank you for reading, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on May 3, 2013 at 3:49pm

Hi everyone, I will take a small side-step into”popera” today. This is an excerpt from Quebec’s answer to the “The voice” talent show, appropriately called “La voix”. I don’t watch either show, but my sister told me about this guy and I should listen to him. I confess I’m a big opera snob and I’m not wooed by just anyone who can hit a high C, which I feel some talent shows seem to glorify. She gave me the details and I checked YouTube and I was pleasantly surprised! Okay so his name is Étienne Cousineau, he’s a counter-tenor, but his tone is so high, I think he sounds like what a castrato would have sounded like. Here he is singing “Miss Sarajevo” with Mark Elkes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8-TKZmNZqA

Now here’s his audition, singing a soprano’s aria from “La Wally”,  “Ebben... Ne andrò lontana”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N-scQT5M_c

In this one, you can also hear his tenor voice, “L’hymne àl’amour”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_ijEERd3os

I wondered, in this pop market, what he wanted to do with his voice and I think his answer came in this episode:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9fs-1W3bwY

Josh Groban seemed supportive of him and said Étienne was amazing. I wish him the best in his career. I don't think his voice is perfect, but I think he has mad potential. I personally would love to hear him sing more classical like “Que faro sensa Euredice” for instance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8id5r31DNck

...but that’s just my opinion. I wish him all the success in the world and I’ll buy his CD when it’s released, whatever it contains! :D Thank you for reading, sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on May 1, 2013 at 8:21pm

Hi all, today, I want to talk about my favorite soprano, her name is Marie-Josée Lord and she's Canadian. I've discovered her about 10 years ago at the Opéra de Montréal: she was my first Mimi in "La bohème". She has a rich, deep tone, capable of the sweetest and lightest notes too: I just can't get enough of her! I've attended several operas she's been in and 3 of her recitals and met her twice and she's an absolute doll, funny, lively and just adorable. The aria I'm sharing today is called "Le monde est stone":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbwwxyZstK8

It comes from what was originally a Canadian/French rock opera in the late 70's called "Starmania":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starmania_(musical)

It was reworked first as a symphonic version, then as a full opera I attended in 2009. So essentially, Marie-Josée created the operatic role. This aria is all about the character Marie-Jeanne who's disgusted and disillusionned by life and society, moves to helplessness and despair and glides into searching for the sun, litterally and figuratively. I simply dissolved when I heard this live and I'm so glad they've included it on her debut CD! I hope one day that the creator will finally agree to at least let it be recorded, by the same original artists as the first production, so we can all enjoy the beautiful melodies and the genius of Simon Leclerc who arranged it and not just as this gorgeous sample. Hope you enjoy. thanks for reading. sincerely, Sylvie <3

Comment by sylvie boisvert on May 1, 2013 at 2:47am

Hi everyone, for my first entry, it would be sacrilegious for me not to start with the maestro: Luciano Pavarotti. He’s the first opera artist I’ve ever listened to. His voice was recognizable, warm and familiar somehow. That’s why I’ve always refered to him as “my buddy Luciano”. A friend of mine introduced me to opera in 1991, at a very impressionable time in my life and I’m forever grateful to her. Having had an adverse opinion of opera in my youth, it took a little while to warm up to it, but I enjoyed Luciano’s voice. In ’95, when our Michael sang with Luciano, I was snapped into attention and remember that when I first listened to their 2 arias, I swore I could feel the blood rushing through my veins and I’ll never forget it... Okay, now down to business. In my humble opinion, THIS, is perfection:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcTj2pgN-VE

Luciano Pavarotti, singing “Che gelida manina” from “La bohème”, with Herbert Von Karajan conducting. I love everything about this aria: from Luciano’s perfect diction,  to his gorgeous rich tone, to his crisp “speranza’”, to his delicate pianissimo at the end, it is just perfect. I’m so glad our Michael chose this one for “My secret passion”! Anyway, I suspect I’ll mention Pavarotti many more times on this blog, but there are many fine tenors I want to share too. In any case, this is my self-indulgent blog so I’m entitled. :D Thanks for reading, sincerely, Sylvie <3

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