The Cleveland Orchestra's Così fan tutte rehearsal at Severance Hall in Cleveland. Photos by Roger Mastroianni.
It's opera week at Severance Hall. This afternoon, Franz Welser-Möst discussed Mozart's Così fan tutte, the emotions involved in it, romanticism, and some technical aspects of the production. He took many questions from the audience, including one that spurred remarks about his own lifelong journey with "Così," his favorite opera.
Opening night of four performances is Tuesday at 7 p.m. Tune in to WCLV on Monday, March 1, at 9 p.m. to hear Franz's opera Preview on the air.
The Cleveland Orchestra and Malin Hartelius, soprano (Fiordiligi); Anna Bonitatibus, mezzo-soprano (Dorabella); Martina Janková, soprano (Despina); Javier Camarena, tenor (Ferrando); Ruben Drole, baritone (Guglielmo); and Antonio Abete, bass-baritone (Don Alfonso); Members of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Sunday night, it took the strength of a dozen stagehands to wrangle a giant 1,000-pound tree up the front steps of Severance Hall, through the Grand Foyer, and into the Concert Hall. The tree (a prop, not real) is the centerpiece of a set for Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte. It was shipped in from Zurich for the fully staged Zurich Opera production that Music Director Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra will perform March 2, 4, 6, and 8 at Severance Hall
Photos by The Cleveland Orchestra Communications Department
As opening night for Così fan tutte draws near, there are still a few opportunities for audience members to learn more about the opera. If you weren’t able to get a seat for the sold-out preview by Franz Welser-Möst on Sunday, February 28, you can still listen to it on Monday March 1 at 9 p.m. on WCLV. In addition to the discussion with Franz and members of the cast at Severance Hall, the Temple-Tifereth Israel will offer a pre-concert lecture from 7 to 9 p.m. this Wednesday, February 24 with Rabbi Roger Klein.
Six characters in search of love and adventure
Meet the personalities in a Zurich Opera production performed by The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in Cleveland on March 2, 4, 6, and 8:
Don Alfonso (Don Al-FON-zo), sung by bass-baritone Antonio Abete (Ahn-TOE-nee-o Ah-BAY-tay), is a cynical older friend of Ferrando and Guglielmo. Alfonso sets the opera in motion with his scheme to test the fidelity of the young men’s fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, respectively. Beware of your older and wiser friends.
Despina (Dess-PEA-nah), sung by soprano Martina Janková (Mar-TEE-nah YAHN-ko-vah), is the saucy servant of Dorabella and Fiordiligi. Despina is only too eager to help Don Alfonso in his prank on his friends and her ladies. Practical and unsentimental, she’s all for having some fun at their expense.
Fiordiligi (Fee-or-dih-LEE-gee), sung by soprano Malin Hartelius (MAH-linn Har-TAY-lee-us), is Dorabella’s sister and Guglielmo’s fiancée. The name Fiordiligi is related to the French term “fleur-de-lis,” (literally, “flower of lily”) and this character is (at first, at least) pure in intention. She strongly resists the unknown Albanian soldier’s advances, proclaiming in her big aria, “Come scoglio,” that her love is as firm as a rock. She takes herself a little too seriously, but her intentions are good.
Dorabella (Dor-ah-BELL-ah), sung by mezzo-soprano Anna Bonitatibus (AH-nah Bo-nee-TAH-tee-booss), Fiordiligi’s sister, is the flightier and more easily swayed, romantically speaking, of the two young women. Her most famous aria is “Smanie implacabili,” in which she sings of the terrible pangs that go along with her mixed feelings. Dorabella may seem silly – and she is!
Guglielmo (Goo-lee-Ā-mo), sung by baritone Ruben Drole (ROO-benn DRO-luh) initially likes the idea of dressing up like Albanian soldiers with his friend Ferrando to woo each other’s fiancées in disguise. The ruse at first seems to prove his own girlfriend’s fidelity and his manly persuasiveness. But Guglielmo doesn’t take it well when Ferrando succeeds at breaking down Fiordiligi’s defenses to win her over. What will this spurned lover do?
Ferrando (Feh-RAHN-doh), sung by tenor Javier Camarena (HAH-vee-air Cah-mah-RAY-nah), is surprised and hurt when his beloved Dorabella quickly succumbs to the charms of Guglielmo (disguised as a visiting soldier). He gets even by threatening suicide to persuade Fiordiligi to pair up with him. Ferrando knows how to get a lady to say yes.
A final note: If you want to sound like a native, pronounce the title of the opera Così fan tutte as Co-ZEE fahn TOOT-tay. It means something to the effect of “All Women Are Like That.”
Denver Musicscene reports that on Saturday, February 20, pianist Mitsuko Uchida will join the Berlin Philharmonic and conductor Sir Simon Rattle in a UNICEF benefit concert for children in Haiti. Uchida, a frequent guest of The Cleveland Orchestra, performs and conducts Mozart at Severance Hall in April. Read more.
Last night, Measha made a surprise appearance singing the Olympic Hymn during the raising of the Olympic flag at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The telecast was seen by approximately a billion people around the world.
Read more details about the ceremony here.
And more photos from the Opera Chic blog:
No, she's not there competing in the Alpine Skiing Downhill. She's Measha and she does not touch her bare feet to snow or other such foolish sports equipment that mere mortals use to entertain themselves and alleviate winter boredom. Goddess Measha glided across the stage at the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. The Canadian soprano ~superstar~ sang the Olympic Anthem on Friday and got to hang out with assorted Canadian pride ambassadors Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang.
Following the powerful one-hour concert, enjoy more music, food, and drinks in the Grand Foyer with Simon Shaheen performing on the middle-eastern oud along with percussionist Jamey Haddad, and violinist (and CIM president) Joel Smirnoff.
Learn more about Simon Shaheen and the oud in this interview from Afropop Worldwide and hear his music on NPR's All Things Considered.
Cleveland Orchestra horn player Jesse McCormick, a member of Baldwin-Wallace College's faculty, will give a free recital of works by Ligeti and Brahms this weekend at Baldwin-Wallace.
Mr. McCormick's program will include Ligeti's Trio (Hommage à Brahms); and Brahms's Trio in E-flat Major.
The recital will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 14, at the B-W Conservatory of Music's Kulas Musical Arts Building at 96 Front Street in Berea.
Admission is free; for more information, please call 440-826-2322.
View a video of Mr. McCormick speaking from Lucerne, Switzerland, in August 2008, about The Cleveland Orchestra's European Residencies:
James Gaffigan to Lucerne Symphony
By Nicholas Beard
February 11, 2010
American conductor James Gaffigan, 30, only recently announced as principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic as of 2011, has another new job in the pipeline: chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, effective with the 2011-12 season.
Gaffigan is a former associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. He won first prize in the Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition 2004 in Frankfurt.
He last led the LSO in 2008 and 2009.
“My overall artistic strategy here will be to provide the essential vitamins that every orchestra needs,” said Gaffigan in his comments, “in the form of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert as well as developing the orchestra’s core repertoire of Beethoven and Brahms. My initial focus is not going to be on Mahler symphonies or The Rite of Spring; rather, I want to concentrate on creating the versatility of styles required to perform everything from Mozart to Debussy.”
Gaffigan cites Mariss Jansons’ achievements with the Oslo Philharmonic and Neeme Järvi’s with the Gothenburg Symphony as inspirations.
Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená appears with baritone Christian Gerhaher and The Cleveland Orchestra led by conductor Pierre Boulez at Severance Hall this weekend.
Become a member of Kožená’s fanclub (registration is free) to take advantage of discounted CDs, signed photographs, access to correspondence with the singer, and more. Contact the Fanclub administrator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Magdalena Kožená, photo by Matthias Bothor/Deutsche Grammophon
Cleveland Orchestra violinists Miho Hashizume and Isabel Trautwein and Cleveland Orchestra oboist Frank Rosenwein joined with other professionals as well as a young student quartet for a night of chamber music in the barn at the Dunham Tavern Museum on Euclid Avenue. Read more about this Heights Arts House Concert, as reported on Lincoln in Cleveland's blog.
Conductor/composer Pierre Boulez will participate in a talk titled "A Conversation with Pierre Boulez" on Friday, Feb. 5, at 4:30 p.m. in Harkness Chapel at Case Western Reserve University. The talk is presented by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. Boulez will be in dialogue with Mary Davis, chair of the Case Western Reserve University Department of Music.
The program is free and open to the public. Online registration is recommended.
After a rehearsal with The Cleveland Orchestra to begin two weeks of concerts and recordings at Severance Hall in February, Pierre Boulez relaxed in his dressing room and reflected on his first impression of The Cleveland Orchestra when he conducted it in his American professional orchestra debut 45 years ago, Mahler’s reputation in France, Ravel’s use of jazz, and more. Answering questions with his characteristically direct gaze and laser-focused intelligence, Mr. Boulez, 84, had the amiable demeanor of a man who has found a comfortable place in the world.
Edited excerpts from the conversation follow.
On conducting The Cleveland Orchestra:
I remember the first time I came here, I told George Szell, with your orchestra one begins where the others are finishing. And that’s true! You can work with them. There are very few orchestras where you can work like that, so thoroughly and so intelligently and so finely also.
On Mahler’s reputation in France when Boulez was growing up:
He was not performed because of the Nazi occupation of France. In France between the two [World] Wars and even after, there was a kind of ignorance of German/Austrian tradition. The French were thinking they are much above that. They took this music with disdain, saying “That’s good for Central Europe; that’s not good for us.”
The very first thing I could adopt and understand completely [in Mahler’s repertoire] was the Lieder [such as the songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn being performed at Severance Hall], precisely because they are not complex. They are direct; they are sometimes very short. You have the mood, the atmosphere, the feeling, without having to bother with a very difficult or complex construction.
On jazz influence in Ravel:
I see very well myself the difference in the Ravel of the ’30s and the Ravel before the first World War. He shows a revolution very strongly – the influence of jazz, the influence of society of this period.
Do you think, really, that Ravel has absorbed the jazz of this period? (Boulez looks at his interviewer with a skeptical air.) No, indeed. It’s difficult to integrate popular music or semi-popular music [into] organized music, because the material of the popular music is not able to develop itself like [classical] music, which is calculated. It’s exactly like that with folk music. Folk music is not developed. It repeats itself, with some variations.
In painting [when] you see in a piece by Picasso an advertising for an aperitif you say, oh, that’s interesting ... you say that’s funny, good, that’s a quote. That’s how you think about it. And that’s the same with the jazz [in Ravel’s writing]: it’s a kind of quote.
On his reasons for returning to Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand, which he previously recorded with Krystian Zimerman and The Cleveland Orchestra, to record them again, this time with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard:
I liked Zimerman, I must say, very much, and I think the recordings were an achievement. But as I know different generations, I like to see how they are thinking and how they are reacting to the music. I’ve known Pierre-Laurent Aimard since he was 19 and now he’s 50 or so. [Aimard was born in 1957.] He is more intellectual – in the right sense – in his approach and … will see it in a historical context, like I do myself.
On the virtuosity in each of Ravel’s piano concertos:
“One [the G-major concerto] shows virtuosity with two hands, where he wanted to make a classical concerto, and the other one [for the left hand] brings problems he’d like to solve, to give the impression of a [pianist] with two hands using only one hand. The concerto for two hands is more of a stylistic problem. For instance, in the second movement, the slow movement, is really a kind of reflection on Neoclassicism – what is Neoclassicism? The style of variation that he used is a variation in the Mozart sense, but not with the vocabulary of Mozart.
The two hands [G major] is more calculated and on the contrary, the left hand is, despite the problem he has to solve for the one hand, more spontaneous than the other one.
On his plans as a composer after this season, which marks his 85th birthday in March, including his progress on his Notations, which he originally wrote for piano and has been orchestrating and expanding for symphonic performance:
The four first Notations [completed in 1978, revised in 1984] are successful from my point of view. They achieve what I want to achieve. I have done five; I have seven to go. So I have to go home and not conduct any concerts for a while! For more than a year. Now I can choose completely what I work on. I stay in Paris or I have a house in Germany, also. I go there, being secluded, like a monk!
In concerts February 4-7, Pierre Boulez conducts The Cleveland Orchestra and pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand, Olivier Messiaen’s L’Ascension, and Ibéria, from Debussy’s Images.
In addition, Boulez conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in the Adagio from Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 and songs from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn), with Magdalena Kožená, soprano, and Christian Gerhaher, baritone, in performances at Severance Hall at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, Friday, February 12, and Saturday, February 13.
Congratulations to Elaine Martone!
From Telarc.com: "Robert Spano conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Transmigration, a Recording Devoted to Honor and Remembrance. The recording features the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Choruses, the Gwinnett Young Singers, and baritone Nmon Ford.
All of us have personal heroes who inspire us. Transmigration (CD-80673 / SACD-60673), the Telarc recording by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano is a collection of hymns and requiems for those we wish to honor and remember. The recording comprises Samuel Barber's universal expressions of loss, Adagio for Strings and Agnus Dei; John Corigliano's Elegy to lost youth; Jennifer Higdon's setting of poetry eulogizing the slain Abraham Lincoln in Dooryard Bloom, and finally John Adams's reflection of personal grief for the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy on September 11, 2001, On the Transmigration of Souls."
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James Meyers, known as a Cleveland-area freelance cellist and teacher as well as a recording engineer and conductor, died on January 23. A frequent visitor to Severance Hall, Mr. Meyers brought his students to open rehearsals of The Cleveland Orchestra and had presented Concert Previews for the Orchestra. For a full story and remembrances by friends, visit the Cleveland Classical blog.
Yesterday, The Cleveland Orchestra's choruses performed their first-ever combined benefit concert, including performances by the Children's Chorus, Youth Chorus and Chorus. All funds raised from the concert benefit the Choruses' activities.
It was my great privilege tonight to participate in the Cleveland Orchestra Joint Choruses Concert. The beneficiary of the proceeds of this concert was the Cleveland Orchestra Tour Fund, which is used to support the touring activities of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Youth Chorus.