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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bruno Mars

When something is incredible, it's incredible. And Bruno Mars' latest single (taken from the Breaking Dawn soundtrack) is one of the best love songs in recent years. Right now, it's up there with Adele's "Someone Like You" as one great torch song. Listen, think of all your failed relationships, and weep.


Then listen to this even better live rendition:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bieito's Carmen

Do we really need another Carmen video on the market? A quick search on Amazon shows dozens of choices, in blu-ray and on regular DVD. Live performances, filmed performances, old videos, new videos. Carmen is also one of those operas where the video library is unusually complete -- renowned performers of the opera, from Franco Corelli's Don Jose to Grace Bumbry's Carmen, have all been caught on film.

The main reason one would be interested in this particular Carmen (filmed in 2010 at the Barcelona Liceu) is that the director is the Calixto Bieito, who has became famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for his controversial productions. Un Ballo et Maschera had a set where men were sitting on a toilet. Bieito productions are supposed to be edgy, controversial, full of violence, the very definition of "Regie-theatre."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

La Sonnambula

La Sonnambula is an opera in search of a great video. There's a B&W RAI film from the 1950's with a very young, pre-nosejob Anna Moffo that's vocally excellent, but has all the artificiality and poor picture/sound quality you'd expect from an RAI film of that era. And from then on it's slim pickings. The Met released a video of Dessay and Florez in the critically panned Mary Zimmerman production that's hampered not just by the silly production, but by Dessay's precarious vocal estate around the time of filming. Such a shame that Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Renata Scotto never filmed their Aminas (although there are plenty of excellent live and studio recordings of their renditions).

This new release on Dynamic is, all things considered, maybe the best La Sonnambula video on the market. That's not really saying much, granted, but still. The sound and picture quality is fine, the singers range from very good to acceptable, and the production is very pretty.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Angela, I mean, Adriana Lecouvreur


When I was living at home with my parents, my dad and I used to have a little thing. Whenever my mom went out of town, the first thing we did was we bought a big box of pizza. My mom, of course, would never allow us just to eat pizza and soda for dinner, so whenever she wasn't around, the first thing we did was pig out on pizza and soda.

Adriana Lecouvreur is opera's equivalent of a big, greasy, pepperoni-filled pizza pie. It's cheesy (forgive the pun), but oh boy is it fun, so much more so than "eat your spinach" operas like, uh, Tannhauser. I've never really been able to follow the particulars of the plot except this: Adriana is an actress and that she's loved by a tenor and baritone, but there's a mezzo that gets jealous and poisons poor Adriana. Last night's performance of Adriana at the OONY reminded me of all the times I wolfed down pizza the minute my mom left the house. Ah, fun times.