Russell Thomas, tenor – In Conversation

African-American tenor Russell Thomas is the owner of an extraordinary voice and an interesting, intelligent, articulate and friendly personality. Interviewing him was a pleasure that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope you will too.

Read here or click on the photo.

Photo of Mr Thomas by Fay Fox, courtesy of Karen Kriendler Nelson (KKN Enterprises) – Mr Thomas’s Personal Press Representative

Poetry in Motion

Opera inspires and so do beautiful buildings. Both come together in harmony and exquisite proportions at the Opera House in Dresden, Germany.

I was inspired to write the poem below after a performance of Rossini’s opera William Tell and the beauty of the Dresdner opera is a gorgeous tribute to the power of music.

 

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Grand Opera

I saw the fairies and felt the caves,
touched the woods
and crossed the waves,
swam through the rain,
glided the storm and surfed the pain
engraved in the music form.

I felt the call of the night
in clear arpeggios of fountains dried
and in the heat of the fight
I stumbled, I cried
I broke the crystalline light.
In peril, I hovered over luminous voices
but fearless I rode the ocean
and stared at my choices.

And then, just closing my eyes,
I saw the music
in flowers of motion,
rainbows and skies.
And the heavens opened
crushing my heart,
leaving the silence to tear me apart.

Poem by myself (Margarida Mota-Bull, nom de plume M G da Mota) / Photograph of the Dresdner Opera courtesy of Malcolm Bull

Too Many Notes, my dear Mozart…!

After the premiere of Mozart’s opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio or Harem), it is said that Emperor Joseph II told the composer something around these lines: “Too beautiful for our ears, my dear Mozart, and an awful lot of notes.” To which Mozart replied: “Exactly as many as are necessary, Your Majesty.” It isn’t certain if this episode ever took place but if the Emperor really said that, Mozart’s reply was in line with his personality and with the fact he knew the quality of his music. As a composer Mozart was far ahead of his time and aware of it.

Prom 39_CR_BBC_Chris Christodoulou_1Robin Ticciati and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the BBC Proms on Fri 14 Aug 2015

“Too many notes” doesn’t refer only to the exotic Turkish elements Mozart introduced in the opera which are in line with the location where the plot takes place, Mozart’s music also describes the characters as well as words or, to my mind, even better, displaying his great sense of the dramatic. This wasn’t happening in opera until Mozart came along.

A semi-staging of Glyndebourne Festival’s production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail was presented at the BBC Proms last Friday, 14th Aug at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a lovely evening of music with the cast in costume and the fabulous Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, led by Robin Ticciati, giving an authentic, energetic and beautiful performance of Mozart’s great opera. I had the pleasure of reviewing it.

Prom 39_CR_BBC_Chris Christodoulou_2Prom 39_CR_BBC_Chris Christodoulou_3Tenor Edgaras Montvidas as Belmonte (left) and Soprano Sally Matthews as Konstanze (right) at the Proms performance of Glyndebourne’s production of Die Entführung on Fri 14 Aug 2015

All photos by Chris Christodoulou, courtesy of the BBC Proms Press Office –

Except feature photo above “Seascape of Normandy” courtesy of Malcolm Bull

Master Singers – A Book

MasterSingerscover

Master Singers: Advice from the Stage is a book by pianist Lucy Mauro and tenor Donald George. It is a compilation of opinions, advice and experiences by some of the most famous opera singers in the world today. Some of the singers are names that need no introduction: Jonas Kaufmann, Joseph Calleja, Joyce DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee to name only a few.

I enjoyed it immensely and had the pleasure of writing a review. It was like going through a long, collective interview with lots of interesting people. I’d recommend it not only if you’re a young singer at the beginning of your career but also if you’re just a keen reader who loves music, opera and would like a glimpse into the world of some of today’s greatest operatic stars. Masters Singers is to my mind a must in the bookshelves or kindle collections of any self-respecting bookworm.

Headshotshawl  copy Lucy Mauro

Photos from Lucy Mauro (left) and

Donald George (right) courtesy of

Ms Mauro and Mr George themselves.

The Albanian Tenor

TRAVIATA_MET_3199a from Ken

On Saturday 4th October I went to the Royal Opera House where I interviewed young Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu.

Intelligent, committed to his art, professional and with a good sense of humour, he was a very interesting subject to interview. You can read it here.

Photo of Saimir Pirgu as Alfredo in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata, New York, by Ken Howard – courtesy of Mr Pirgu’s PR Karen Kriendler Nelson of KKN Enterprises

Stars of the Future

Portuguese tenor Luis Gomes and Brazilian baritone Michel de Souza are part of one of the most prestigious young artists’ programmes in the world. I am talking about the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.

I went to meet Luis and Michel on Friday, July 11. I was curious to discover how they came to opera, as neither Portugal nor Brazil are countries with a great operatic tradition, and what it means for them to be a part of the Jette Parker programme.

It was a delightful experience, as they are both very pleasant and dedicated to their art. I think they are real stars of the future and it was a great pleasure to talk to them. Enjoy reading the interviews by clicking on the photos.

 

Luis Gomes
Luis Gomes
Michel de Souza
Michel de Souza

Photos of Luis Gomes and Michel de Souza courtesy of the Royal Opera House

 

 

Joyce DiDonato on Twitter for San Diego Opera

827516-1395766850-wide-San Diego Opera Hs

Opera is an extraordinary art form; art is what makes us different from other animals. So, I believe that it is always worth saving any opera house or opera company! My words but Joyce DiDonato said on Twitter:

Joyce DiDonato @JoyceDiDonato

“You guys are FABULOUS! But not fabulous enough just yet…approaching 7K signatures – COME ON! DO THIS!! PLEASE SIGN!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/827/516/648/save-san-diego-opera/#sign

Joyce is actively trying to prevent a closure of an excellent opera house on what appears to be very feeble grounds. Have a look and if you think it is important to save San Diego Opera, sign the petition (via the above link) and share it!

Alek Shrader: Star Power!

shrader--2 by Peter Schaaf

Alek Shrader photographed by Peter Schaaf, courtesy of Mr Shrader himself

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing young American tenor Alek Shrader, as part of his run of performances at Glyndebourne Festival 2013 where he has been singing the role of Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.

Shrader is a very interesting person to talk to and his enthusiasm, charming energy and pure joy in living are contagious. It is impossible not to like him or not to wish him well. A genuine star! You can read my interview with him by clicking here.