Monday, July 25, 2016
US mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has been elected 2016 Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year at Dallas Opera. She created the role of American opera singer Arden Scott, the central character in Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s new opera Great Scott which premiered in Dallas in October 2015 and was voted by subscribers as their outstanding debutante. Joyce writes: I am sincerely and deeply honored to receive the Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award from The Dallas Opera, for my role as Arden Scott in Jake Heggie’s world premiere, GREAT SCOTT. Of course it is the dream of any singer to be mentioned in the same breath as Maria Callas, so I will very proudly carry this mantle associated with so many of my dear colleagues from years past! But perhaps the most sublime part of this, is that the award comes from this incredible journey of a world premiere, which The Dallas Opera championed so beautifully, and one that celebrates our art form so victoriously. We created a glorious “GREAT SCOTT Family” within the beautiful “Dallas Opera Family,” and for this, I feel so very grateful. I’d like to imagine that Maria is smiling down on us all, proud for carrying on her philosophy of singing from a place of truth—for without any doubt, we all know how much she continues to matter! A million thanks for this most special award! Joyce DiDonato Past winners include: Susan Graham, Cecilia Bartoli, Denyce Graves, Patricia Racette, Latonia Moore and Ben Heppner.
Alan Wilkinson, who founded Music in Country Churches in 1989, has died at the age of 86. An English gentleman of the old school, unfailingly courteous and polite, and backed by a formidable knowledge of music and musicians, over 27 years he arranged an annual series of high class concert weekends in some of the finest English rural churches. Names such as Bartoli, te Kanawa, Brendel, Rostropovich, Zukerman, Perahia, Lang Lang, Marriner, Kissin, Pires and von Otter, together with equally fine orchestras and ensembles, were drawn in by Wilkinson’s charm and persistence, and ensured a loyal and knowledgeable audience, raising along the way well in excess of half a million pounds to support the upkeep of English rural churches. The series will continue, but English music has lost a unique and much-loved figure.
The three Mozart operas on this DVD are my great favorites. This recording also serves as a way to remember the conductor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who died a few months ago. The title of this DVD is: Harnoncourt: The Mozart Da Ponte Operas Mozart: Cosi fan tutte, K588 Don Giovanni, K527 Le nozze di Figaro, K492 Nikolaus Harnoncourt was a legend who brought music to life and made it speak. This edition is in memoriam of one of the greatest musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries. These three Da Ponte operas by Mozart were staged at the Zurich Opera House by Jürgen Flimm. The wonderful casts include Cecilia Bartoli, Rodney Gilfry, Agnes Baltsa, Eva Mei, Roberto Saccà, Isabel Rey and Oliver Widmer. Here, for your enjoyment, is Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte:
Reviews for Bartoli’s West Side Story at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival have been overwhelmingly unkind. The Kurier’s headline: Bartoli singt Musical: Leider nur somehow (Bartoli sings a musical, sadly just somehow) Merkur: Cecilia Bartoli als (zu) späte Maria (Bartoli as too-late Maria) Die Presse : A melancholy West Side Story. Der Standard is a tad kinder about Cecilia sharing the role on stage with a young actress, Michelle Veintimilla. © Salzburger Festspiele/ Silvia Lelli
“Martin … first rose to prominence in the mid-nineties writing a string of hits for [Britney] Spears, Backstreet Boys and [Justin] Timberlake. … Bartoli, from Rome, Italy, is best known for her interpretations of the music of Mozart and Rossini, and has seen her solo releases achieve enormous success.” Each receives a cash award of 1 million Swedish kronor (currently $118.000).
The Polar Prize winners for 2016 have just been announced, one from serious music the other from pop. The Italian mezzo will receive 1m Swedish crowns (about $150,000). A Swedish songwriter known as Max Martin is her opposite number. Past winners include Chuck Berry, Björk, Steve Reich and Peter Sellars. The winners get to make a big, world-relayed speech. UPDATE: The announcement video, with anachronistic commentary and a gormless interviewer:
Great opera singers