Articles by antonigarciareviews

Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien and Nicolas Testè! With a scintillating cast of singers like this, this was a very worthwhile evening. Enjoy the review and let me know your opinions as well. P.S. I thought Patricia Racette was a decent host as she had enough charisma and charm to liven things up. Also, I do apologize for some of the background noise in this review as my flatmate had guests even though he was aware I was making this Vlog style review. Plus, this was made two years ago. So, I hope you enjoy this video.

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Hello, once again! Antoni, here, with another piece of fan art. As you can see in my picture, it’s Basuli from The Legend of Tarzan, Simba from The Lion King and, of course, Tarzan himself or as I would like to call them, The Wild Jungle Brothers. Their commanding presence, strong bond as brothers, well-built muscles, extraordinary combat prowess, and superhuman athletic abilities are enough to leave any poacher, marauder, destroyer, and/or traitor quaking at the sight! So, don’t mess with these badass, muscular warrior bros.   There is no doubt that I love both Disney’s The Lion King, plus its sequel, bits and pieces of The Lion Guard, and a bit of Lion King 1 1/2, and Tarzan, as well as the television show following the movie, The Legend of Tarzan. When it comes to jungle-themed animated installments, a crossover between these two actually seems wonderfully plausible. They are both set in Africa, albeit in different countries, and they balance action with a bit of romance, friendship, and humor. Plus, having a crossover between Basuli, Tarzan, and Simba seems like the stuff of legends because of their overall heroism and the fact that they are super strong Alpha males in their own special ways.   To make this fun, for those of you reading and taking a gander at my piece of fan art, I would like to invite you to comment some captions for Basuli, Simba, and Tarzan respectively. The floor is yours and I hope you have fun with commenting your captions.   Ever since I was a nine-year-old boy, I was really psyched to see that there was a television continuation of Disney’s Tarzan in the form of The Legend of Tarzan. Even when I was in Hong Kong in a bookstore, I read the original tale by Edgar Rice Burroughs and was actually fascinated that there were actually humans that came to Tarzan’s side of the jungle headed by Chief Mbonga and his son, Kulonga, who ended up killing Kala with his poisoned bow and arrow. This action then leads Tarzan to avenge his foster mother’s death by hanging Kulonga in a tree and stabbing him in the heart with his hunting knife. Eventually, my curiosity was further aroused when I saw a teaser containing an actual African native in the show, something that the 1999 film did not really show. As I watched the show itself, I found out that the African native’s name was Basuli, who is a member of the Waziri tribe.   It was from Basuli’s debut episodes, “Tarzan and the Poisoned River Parts 1 and 2”, did I start developing a secret crush on not only him but Tarzan too. If you were in my place and a nine-year-old boy, I am sure you would’ve been ashamed at telling your parents that, but for a girl, it would be no problem. Anyways, as he made further appearances in “Tarzan and the Fountain” and “Tarzan and the Eagle’s Feather”, I grew to love the brotherly relationship these two have. So much so, that I am convinced that Tarzan’s biological parents should have gone to the Waziri tribe’s area, though they would have ended up being brutally murdered by Sabor the leopardess, and it would be up to Chief Keewazi to raise the orphan boy as his own alongside his biological son, Basuli, thus having both boys be brothers.   There are definitely highlights from Basuli and Tarzan in the TV show, and those were: the pair of them wrestling each other before Chief Keewazi stops the commotion and introduces Tarzan to the Waziri village, the double roar Basuli and Tarzan gave to the greedy mine owner Ian McTeague, which was their shining moment of all time, and the whole race for the eagle’s feather for Basuli to marry the lovely Naoh. It was a major shame that Basuli was only featured in a total of four episodes because I truly love him as a character and I wish more of him would have been fleshed out. Sure, Tarzan’s, Terk’s, and Tantor’s relationship is basically on the best friends level, but with Tarzan and Basuli there is truly something deeper akin to brotherhood because of how they compete with each other, have certain fights, and, of course, their superhuman physical capabilities, which made that one scene in “Tarzan and the Eagle’s Feather” where Basuli and Tarzan were running, gliding, vine-swinging, and tree-surfing before they find themselves in a strong river stand out to me so much. Special acknowledgment also has to go to Phil LaMarr, who did an amazing job at capturing Basuli’s proud and mighty nature, as well as having an irresistible vocal presence, which, in turn, was applicable in giving Basuli his signature swagger.   Even though Tarzan and Simba are from completely different installments, fanfic authors and fan artists find it great to have these two characters interacting with each other. Whether it’s them being good friends or almost akin to brothers or even having Tarzan live in Simba’s area, there are a lot of possibilities of how their relationship can be handled. There was a really good piece of fanfiction called Tarzan of the Lions that I really enjoyed reading during my time as a nineteen-year-old in film school. Unfortunately, the fanfic got deleted by the author himself, as he wanted to focus on writing more original stories or fanfics that are not totally beat per beat with original movies. I forgot who wrote it but it’s safe to say that it’s Tarzan meets The Lion King with the first half having The Lion King’s musical number and the second half being more Tarzan-focused. In that story, Mufasa served as Kerchak, an OC by the name of Uzuri served as Kala, although I would’ve wanted Sarabi to take on the Kala part and have Simba and Tarzan be brothers, Scar is an amalgamation of Tublat and Sabor, and Timon and Pumbaa are still themselves but with hints of…

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My Three Inuyasha OTPs drawn by me

Hey, everybody! Antoni, here, with another piece of fanart I made. This time it’s Inuyasha with three of my most beloved and favorite OTPs. From left to right we have Inuyasha/Ayame, Ginta/Shunran, and Kohaku/Rin. I aged them up to what I would think they would look like this year, even though I did make them look a lot younger than I expected them to look. In this picture, Inuyasha is 35, Ayame is 32, Ginta is 33 going on 34, Shunran is 31, Kohaku is 29, and Rin is 25 going on 26. Yes, I know I could’ve also drawn Sesshoumaru/Kagome, Miroku/Sango, Shippou/Souten, and Souta/Kanna, but there was apparently only room for three couples in my sketchpad. Moreover, I am a bigger Inuyasha/Ayame, Ginta/Shunran, and Kohaku/Rin fan because not only do I find these pairings absolutely adorable, but also plausible in their own ways. So, let’s not waste any time and talk about these respective pairings. Inuyasha/Ayame Given the amount of Inuyasha/Ayame fanfics, I have been recommending and, of course, reviewing, it should come off as no surprise that these two are my OTP for life. From the bottom of my heart, I always knew that Inuyasha should’ve ended up with someone more compatible. I mean, if I were in his position, I would move on from Kikyou, stay the absolute heck away from Kagome, and just settle with someone as tough, strong, and kickass like Ayame. Additionally, if I were in Ayame’s position, I should just let Kouga keep Kagome and I can run off with Inuyasha, with good old gramps giving his approval to someone as sturdy, strong, and steadfast like him. In terms of Inuyasha’s outfit, I did promise I was going to make something out of it after I reviewed darling krash’s fanfic A Hint of Hope, and I had an idea of how it should look. Since Inuyasha is essentially a warrior suitable for Ayame to be her loyal husband, I decided to make him look a little more tribal and dress like one of the wolf youkai, even though Inuyasha is a dog hanyou. Speaking of which, I decided to tap into Inuyasha’s full youkai side without the overall bloodthirsty nature he has in that state and make him have enhanced physical strength, given his physicality here. I also imagine him doing more hand-to-hand combat, as well as using his claws to take down his enemies. Overall, it was such a joy making a more muscular, more mature-looking, and more warlike Inuyasha, it was really envisioning him as this type of warrior. Moreover, I did keep Inuyasha’s trademark badassery, which was one thing about him I found so endearing. Ayame was also a joy to draw. I kept her signature outfit and I also decided to make her a little bit more womanly though still keeping her youth and vivacity. I can certainly see Inuyasha and Ayame fighting side by side on a battlefield and they will come home as the champions. After all of that, it’s a whole night of hot and steamy intimacy. I also envision them having children of their own, what with Inuyasha being the strong, no-nonsense, strict, yet open and cool father and Ayame being the supportive, well-meaning, and strong-minded mother. That also gives me an idea of making their fan-children. Overall, is there anything else I need to say about why I not only fancy the pants off of Inuyasha/Ayame but also love them as a couple? In my mind, they were definitely made for each other. Ginta/Shunran I have been toying with this idea of these two being together for many years. All of the sudden it hit me. No one has even thought about pairing these two together other than me. So, I guess it was up to me to give this coupling the light of day. Since I always saw Ginta’s and Hakkaku’s relationship as more platonic, as they act like fraternal twin brothers with their antics and chemistry, I thought to myself, why not give these two guys some lovely women to be their life partners. On the flipside, the Panther Devas, especially Toran, Karan, and Shunran, have been my favorite Inuyasha filler anti-heroes because of how well they work as a unit and just how fun they are in terms of their personalities. So, I kind of came to the conclusion that Ginta might as well take Shunran to be his mate and Hakkaku can take Karan. As I stated before in my fanfiction recommendation of “An Odd Pair” by JapanLurve101, I like the idea of Ginta and Shunran being together. When you have a nice, kind-hearted, hilarious, and sweet soul like Ginta pair up with someone as mischievous, spirited, vivacious, and cheeky like Shunran, it can actually make for a really adorable yet plausible pairing. At first, they might not agree on a lot of things and may have their own trust issues, but as soon as he sees Shunran in danger, I can imagine Ginta bucking up and saving her. Through time, they will actually grow to like each other, in spite of how different they are with Ginta being a wolf youkai and Shunran being a panther youkai. They will very much challenge and break the system, thus running off together. Plus, I am sure they will have a lot of great interactions with Ginta thinking that Shunran is cute, bubbly, and fun-loving and Shunran thinking that Ginta is hilarious, strong, and charming. With Ginta’s outfit, it is a variation of his trademark one in the anime though I did make a few changes to expose parts of his chest and torso. In terms of his personality, I see him being a lot more independent and strong while still being the gentle, goofy, and kind soul that he’s always been. Plus, he has beefed up a bit as he got older. With Shunran, I made a variation on her outfit while still keeping her trademark colors, as well as the…

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Hey, everybody! Antoni, here! As promised, I decided to make a piece of Brick, Butch, Blossom, and Buttercup fanart, after reading a good amount of fanfics mainly involving them. So, for your viewing pleasure here are, from left to right, Brick, Butch, Blossom, and Buttercup aka my most favorite bruisers in all of cartoon history posing after a nice, intensive workout plus doing a lot of Muay Thai. I took the liberty of drawing them in my style, as opposed to the original style by Craig McCracken because I kind of wanted to put my own spin on it, for lack of a better explanation. To make this more fun, I am inviting you guys to caption this picture. Yes, I have also gotten myself into the world of Caption This! So, please go ahead, be creative, and comment your captions for each of these four characters, I would be very happy to read them. Based on this piece of fanart I did, I aged all four of them up to what I think they would look like in 2018. Brick and Butch are 25 going on 26, and Blossom and Buttercup are 25. As much as I want to show it, Brick is married to Blossom and Butch is married to Buttercup, and they have been really close-knit not only with their respective spouses but also with their siblings and siblings-in-law. Starting off with Brick, I wanted to keep his large-and-in-charge and proud attitude when making this. Plus, I always found him absolutely gorgeous with long hair and he seems to be the type of guy who is charming in his own way but will beat you up when you cross his path. Moreover, I could see him ritualistically having heated sparring matches with Butch and some friendly ones with his wife and sister-in-law, Blossom and Buttercup respectively. In terms of his cap, I decided to omit that because I do fancy Brick letting his hair down. Butch was pretty easy for me, as he is the muscle and the overall big guy. I made him buffer than Brick, which is saying something, and I thought it would be nice to see Butch showing off his vascular veins. I am not good at drawing vascular, so, any fellow artists who can draw an older, more muscular Butch or even Brick, please I would also love to be inspired by your works. Personality-wise, he still has his impulsive attitude and his passion and love for going physical. Sometimes one has to leave it to Brick to discipline him in his own special way, Blossom to tame the beast within him, and Buttercup just to enjoy being with him. I actually enjoyed drawing Blossom, as she and Buttercup have always been my two favorite Powerpuff Girls. Yes, Blossom is very well-known for being the intelligent strategist at best and bossy at worst but I wanted to also bring out that bruiser personality in her. She has proven that in her battle with Princess Morbucks from “Stuck Up, Up and Away”, which, by the way, was Blossom’s greatest shining moment, and many other episodes in which she can fight to the best of her abilities. Plus, I did enjoy drawing her long Rapunzel hair and letting it down. I have always preferred it that way. Buttercup was, of course, a joy to draw. I wanted to make her hair longer, as it looked cuter than her signature shorter hair. I also wanted to keep her femininity intact, even though she is the polar opposite of Blossom, thus having Buttercup’s top slightly tattered. Plus, I always have a blast when Blossom and Buttercup engage themselves in combat. I can certainly envision that, as they seem to spar with each other all the way up to their adulthood. For quite some time, I have been toying with the idea of making fanart involving Brick, Butch, Blossom, and Buttercup, after reading and recommending some fanfics mainly involving them and looking at some fanart for inspiration. I have to say that the results were satisfactory. It took time for me to get the positions, body types, and the characters pegged down, as it was not easy at all. Still, it was an utter joy to have made this piece of work and I want to do a lot more. Thanks for reading this and having a good look at this fanart. I hope you all enjoyed it, happy captioning, and have a lovely day. Brick, Butch, Blossom, and Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls all belong to Craig McCracken.

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My Thoughts on Verdi’s Aida Live from the Kungliga Operan

It is a royal throwdown between the young spinto soprano Miss Christina Nilsson as the captured Ethiopian princess Aida and the veteran Wagnerian soprano who has nowadays turned her attention to dramatic mezzo roles Madame Katarina Dalayman as the proud Egyptian princess Amneris. Which of these two phenomenal ladies of the stage will come out on top? Sit back, relax, enjoy, and find out in this review.

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Hey, everybody! Antoni, here, with another Powerpuff Girls fanfiction recommendation. I will be taking a look at No Matter What They Say written by dark lil’angel2be, published on July 1, 2014, and was based on the fan-animated music video (ANIMATION) Blossoomer – My Immortal created and uploaded by StarRainerGirl on February 1 of that same year. It’s rated T. It’s in English. It’s Romance/Hurt/Comfort, and if it were not already obvious, the main pairing is Boomer/Blossom. Other characters involved are Brick and Butch. Based on the fan-animated music video and the fanfic, the characters are between 14 to 15.   Before I talk about this fanfic, I would love to spend a few moments to talk about Blossoomer – My Immortal, which as one can tell is a Boomer/Blossom fan-animated music video created, uploaded and published by StarRainerGirl, also known as xahCHUc on Deviantart, and used the ballad, My Immortal, sung by Evanescence’s very own Amy Lee. I caught this by complete chance and after watching it in its entirety I was thoroughly blown away. Not only did StarRainerGirl do an amazing job with the animation and designs for both the characters and the settings but she was also able to use the song to its advantage to convey the emotions that Boomer and Blossom have for each other. Every time I watch this video, I would easily well-up because My Immortal is one of my most favorite tearjerking songs of all time and I happen to be a fan of Evanescence, especially where Amy Lee’s unparalleled and flawless vocal skills are concerned. I’m sure some people will look at this melodramatic. As for me, I certainly had a feels trip with this one and I salute StarRainerGirl for everything she did to make this come to full fruition.   Going to the pairing of Boomer/Blossom or Blossoomer itself, I find it kind of plausible. Sure, I always love shipping Brick and Blossom, Butch and Buttercup, and Boomer and Bubbles on a romantic level, and out of all these couples, I would say that Boomubbles has the strongest chemistry, most stability, and most trust. However, when it comes to Boomer and Blossom, it is a cute and innocent pairing on a platonic best friends forever level, as I can see a great amount of mutual respect that these two have for each other, which stands in stark contrast to how Brick and Butch would usually treat their youngest brother. I assess this as Boomer being the misunderstood, misguided, simple, jovial, gentle and artistic soul who is well-meaning on the inside and Blossom being the diplomatic, well-versed, intrepid, upright, compassionate, and bookish intellectual who does not judge a book by its cover. She will be the person who can see beyond Boomer’s trying-hard-to-be-tough shell, see that he is hurting inside because of how much of a butt-monkey he is to his elder brothers, and show mercy and compassion towards him. Therefore, Blossom will eventually break through his walls and help him become a better person not only to her but also to her sisters, especially Bubbles. Moreover, there will be a healthy synergy between the two, thus leading to a really beneficial relationship complete with letting go of any bitterness, being very appreciative of each other, and having each others’ backs through thick and thin. Blossom can help Boomer stand up for himself and tap into his creative and artistic side and Boomer can help Blossom chill out, not take everything too seriously, and not beat herself up about any issue she has. With that said, let’s get on to what I thought about the fanfic and how well it complements the fan-animated music video.   It is a dark day complete with a rainstorm and Blossom is all alone in her room completely depressed, as she has had another nightmare of a failed rescue mission. She wakes up from it and sees an inscription on the mirror, “No matter what they say <3 – Boomer”. With that alone, Blossom remembers all the times she was there for Boomer from comforting him in his time of sadness to protecting him from his elder brothers’ taunts. Boomer is in a similar situation, as he too is in deep, depressing solitude. He too remembers those he comforted Blossom and even helped her in battle. The inseparability that these two have made them realize that they can’t live without each other, in spite of Brick’s and Butch’s discouragement on Boomer’s part. My word, if you want to get the full emotional experience of the story, you must watch the video and read the fanfic, they actually complement each other and both of them flesh out the main characters of Boomer and Blossom really well. Even more so, these two installments will make you want to grab some tissue after the entire shebang. Trust me when I say that if you did not cry after watching the video or reading the fanfic, something must be intrinsically wrong with you. There were some differences found, as the fanfic was not a copy and paste of the video. In the video, Blossom spots the inscription on the window, not on her mirror and Boomer had two cases in which he remembered Blossom comforting and defending him. To the fanfic’s credit, in terms of the latter case, I am very sure the author did not want to make Boomer go through so much turmoil than he already has with his elder brothers, thus ensuring diversity between the two with Boomer giving Blossom comfort from her sadness and protection against the villains she fights. After all, one good turn deserves another. I dare not spoil the ending, but let’s just say that it made me love Boomer so much as a character, I was blissful to see these two together and being there for each other, and it was sweet relief to an otherwise nearly depressing dirge of a tale. By and large, the story is simple, sweet, yet…

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Hey, everybody! Antoni, here, with another recommended reading post. Today, I will be talking about the article ROH Interview: Petra Lang on singing Kundry in the ROH’s Parsifal with Bernard Haitink, which was written by Dominic McHugh and published in MusicalCriticism.com on November 22, 2007. Fun fact. When I was a seventeen-year-old junior high school student, I had the pleasure of reading this particular article as a basis for my English research paper about Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin, especially when talking about Ortrud. One has to leave it up to singers like Astrid Varnay and Petra Lang who not only sang this role magnificently in their own ways but also understood the character and the overall historical context. On the surface, Ortrud comes off as a wicked witch. However, when one gets to know her, the environment she is in, and the era the opera took place, which is in Antwerp in the 10th century or the Middle Ages, she is an intelligent, strong, fiercely independent, and determined woman, who has been badly scorned by society, as women were more underprivileged in comparison to the men. Essentially, Ortrud uses her craft, cunning, and smarts for her own goals to bring back a pagan Brabant and get back at those who dared to scorn, profane, and underestimate her and her lineage. Hence, that is also why I love Ortrud so much as a character, as she is multifaceted and rightfully frustrated with the situation she was in, thus taking action using her own hands and means, in spite of the fact that she is married to Count Friedrich von Telramund. Overall, the experience I had in making my research paper was a major journey from looking at the annals to reading books about opera to gathering all of my sources was kind of tough but it was so enjoyable and rewarding, as after all of that I ended up having a 95% on this project. Sure, I would have turned it in earlier thus getting a higher grade but I digress. I put in a lot of work, heart, and effort on that project, and I was happy, to say the least. Speaking of the main interviewee at hand, is there anything else I need to say about why I am utterly fascinated with Frau Petra Lang in terms of her insurmountable prowess as a singing actress? It’s very much the reason why I see her as a feistier, more outgoing, and fierier younger sister from another mother to Waltraud Meier. Both of them are extremely famous for singing roles in both the dramatic mezzo and dramatic soprano repertoires, chiefly in the German operas especially Wagner, like Fricka, Waltraute, Brangäne, Kundry, Ortrud, Amneris, Eboli, Isolde, Sieglinde, Marie from Wozzeck, Octavian, the Composer from Ariadne auf Naxos, and Venus. Even more so, both of them had their beginnings as lyric mezzos before ascending to the dramatic parts. However, unlike Frau Meier who sang Isolde and some dramatic soprano parts from 1993 to 2015, Frau Lang started to go to the dramatic soprano route in 2012. After singing Brünnhilde’s arias in concert for quite some time especially the Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung, she ascended the role of this iconic heroine from Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung as well as taking on Isolde in 2016. While Waltraud Meier’s voice is more metallic in emission during her prime, Petra Lang’s vocal emission is more electric, wiry, and flexible whilst maintaining its steely quality. Her higher range pierces the heavens like a thousand daggers when she hits her Bs and Cs. Coupling her exciting voice is her exceptional and involving skills as an actress, thus throwing herself into each and every role she does. With that said, let’s get on to the article and what I enjoy about it. I find it so astounding that Petra Lang was a big Wagner fan when she was a child from listening to a Flying Dutchman recording to listening to old-school singers like Julius Patzak. Even more so, her initial fascination with Parsifal was a tell-tale sign that she was not only going to sing the Voice from Above and a Flowemaiden of Klingsor but eventually Kundry, a role she took a look at in 1996 during René Kollo’s thirtieth anniversary of his stage debut. It is crystal clear that Madame Lang has been thoroughly invested with this iconic character akin to the Wandering Jew. One line that really got to me in the most positive way was, “I think Kundry as a role is about incarnation”, because of how she was able to comprehend Kundry’s roller-coaster of a journey from laughing at Christ on the cross, thus being doomed to wander the earth for all eternity, to her initial appearance as a savage, feral woman in the first act to a seductress under Klingsor’s control in the second act to a complete zombie in the third and final act. She also mentions Kundry’s relationship with not only Klingsor but also Amfortas and Parsifal and makes smart and well-done comparisons and observations of these characters. Even more so, Petra Lang was even coached by Astrid Varnay in the Wagnerian roles, not just Kundry but also Sieglinde, Adriano, Venus, and Ortrud. Speaking of Ortrud, this particular segment of the article was my biggest highlight, not only on an academic level in my experience but because of how someone as savvy as Petra Lang was able to make Ortrud into an even more multi-dimensional and relatable character. I also have to leave it up to her brand of humor to make me, the reader, actually root for Ortrud and everything she stands for and not just feel like I was reading overly pedantic. Even more so, just by listening and watching her performances as Ortrud, I can certainly tell that the great Astrid Varnay coached her superbly in terms of characterization and singing. The way singers like her see Ortrud is that she is a capable, political, and independent woman as opposed Elsa’s…

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Hey, everybody! Antoni, here, with some recommended reading. I will be talking about the article Goddess Excellently Bright: Michaela Schuster and Tannhäuser, which was written by Mansel Stimpson and published on Classical Source in December 2010.   Ah, Michaela Schuster. I have been a fan of this particular dramatic mezzo-soprano ever since I was sixteen. When I read her biography, I was so fascinated with the roles she did even though I did not see her live yet. From the Zwischenfach roles of Sieglinde from Walküre, Giulietta from Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Ortrud from Lohengrin, Eboli from Don Carlo, Amneris from Aida, Santuzza from Cavalleria Rusticana, and Marie from Wozzeck to true dramatic soprano roles like Marta from Tiefland to dramatic mezzo roles like Herodias from Salome, Laura from La Gioconda, Brangäne from Tristan und Isolde, Fricka from Rheingold and Walküre, and the Nurse from Die Frau Ohne Schatten to even Charlotte from Werther, I knew from the back of my mind that this was a singer to look out for. Nowadays, aside from chiefly focusing on the dramatic mezzo parts that she is well-known for, she has even ventured into contralto roles like Klytämnestra from Elektra, La Zia Principessa from Suor Angelica, and Zita from Gianni Schicchi, though she also did Auntie from Peter Grimes, Florence Pike from Albert Herring, and Madame de Croissy from Les Dialogues des Carmelites.   In terms of her voice, it has a nice balance of dramatic metal without too much exertion and a luxurious lyricism, in which these vocal qualities make her all the more unique to my ears. Given her training as an oboist, she seems to have impeccable control of her voice when she has to sing either softly and plaintively or when she has to have dramatic outbursts. More than anything, she is a fiery, involved, commanding, and charismatic actress. Whether she evokes Sieglinde’s tenderness, the Nurse’s domineering and nasty nature, Fricka’s pain and suffering, Klytämnestra’s nightmares, Herodias’s venom, or Ortrud’s unhinged desire for vengeance against the Brabantians, she certainly sells it in everything she does to the point where I am in utter awe.   In terms of this article, I initially read this when I was about 19 or 20 years old and I was immediately fascinated. I got to know more about Michaela Schuster’s career and journey and I was thoroughly enlightened and inspired.   Based on the article’s title, this does not solely talk about Madame Schuster’s past engagement as Venus but also her beginnings as a singer and an overall musician. Reading how she went from studying the oboe at the Conservatory of Nuremberg thus getting herself a place in a small orchestra to returning to Salzburg with her sights being set on becoming a singer to the initial hardships she had to go through to get to this point made me relate to her trials and tribulations as a performer myself. This also depicts that the life of a fresh-faced performer whether one would be a singer or an actor or a musician or a dancer is not at all easy. However, if one has a good head on his shoulders and loads of determination and discipline, one can certainly make it. Even more so, success stories like this do not come overnight, as perseverance, courage, and a fighting spirit are needed to make it through.   Speaking of success stories, I beamed with joy when I read that she had her initial success as a mainstay artist at the Darmstadt Staatstheater from 1999 to 2002 after opera director Pamela Rosenberg met her in Berlin and inquired her to do Fricka, as well as her first set of roles being Florence Pike, Auntie, and Penelope from Monteverdi’s Ulisse. I also found it wonderful to read that even though Madame Schuster is extremely for doing Wagner, she aspires to have more flexibility in her repertoire with doing Italian and French roles as well as doing recitals. A part of me even wonders how she would fare doing roles like Azucena, Ulrica, Fidés, Madame de la Haltiere, Mistress Quickly, Gertrude from Thomas’s Hamlet, and/or Genevieve from Pelleas et Melisande, I am pretty sure she would be a knockout, given her superb acting chops and unparalleled skills as an overall musician.   When it comes to her talking about Venus, she makes well-thought-out comparisons in terms of how different the Dresden and Paris versions are especially when it comes to this character, Venus’s attitude vs The Princess di Bouillon’s attitude when it comes to love and rivalry, and even how Venus and Elisabeth love Tannhäuser. I can also concur that Tannhäuser is not even an easy sing for many a Heldentenor, as he not only needs to sing lyrically but also incorporate high notes. Those challenges also go to Venus, as she not only needs to bear a mezzo color to her voice but also hit high notes. Granted, I have not seen Michaela’s performance of Venus in either the Royal Opera House or the Chicago Lyric Opera, so for those of you who had, how did you think she fared?   By and large, when reading this 7-year-old article, I get the impression that Michaela Schuster seems to be a down-to-earth, hardworking, focused, professional, and thoroughly natural person. Moreover, she has become one of my biggest role models of all time and I felt like I learned a lot from her, her experiences, her trials, and her triumphs. I also have to give Mansel Stimpson for not only conducting the interview in such a professional fashion but for also writing this superb article.   Overall, if you have free time, I highly recommend reading this article, especially if you are a fan of Michaela Schuster or opera in general. Your eyes will definitely be open to see how her journey went from bearing hardships to earning success. I give this article 5 out of 5 favorite opera arias for a dramatic mezzo-soprano. It is imperative that you…

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This has been in the making for weeks after I caught the live stream of the Bayerische Staatsoper’s production of Les Vepres Siciliennes. The question remains. How well does the star-studded cast consisting of the young American spinto soprano Rachel Willis-Sorenson, the Italian lirico-spinto Leonardo Caimi, the Romanian dramatic baritone George Petean, and the Uruguayan bass-baritone Erwin Schrott? Find out in this review, enjoy, and have a blessed Easter week.

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