When I look back at my time as an online music reviewer who focuses mostly on opera, chamber music, Baroque music, classical music, concerts, folk music, and ballet, I accomplished certain things and got acquainted with different artists, and all of these facets have made me who I am today. As an infant, I would end up listening to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, and orchestral music in general as opposed to vocal music, as I did not become an opera fan overnight. I was initially a fan of the Disney animated musical films and the live-action musical films like Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. From age five to age ten, I took ballet lessons, even though I knew for a fact that I was not going to end up as a danseur. On top of that, it became a holiday tradition for me to watch Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on VHS starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. At age nine, I had my first violin lessons. With time, patience, and discipline I grew with this instrument. This was also the age where I was first introduced to Andrea Bocelli and Charlotte Church, though I did have my prior experiences with the Three Tenors and Maria Callas. Even more so, I had my first recorder lessons and I started to become familiar with the vocal types: sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass, which was especially useful for choir singing, which I also did sparingly when attending mass. I even had a go at singing as a boy soprano, even though I did realize how my voice was changing as an eleven-year-old and I can no longer sing treble. Before and during the time I was ten, I exposed myself to the huge names in opera like Kiri Te Kanawa, Leontyne Price, Cesare Siepi, Hermann Prey, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Joan Sutherland, Renata Tebaldi, Lily Pons, Frederica von Stade, Montserrat Caballe, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Victoria de los Angeles, Giuseppe Taddei, Jussi Björling, Christa Ludwig, Jessye Norman, Ezio Pinza, Rise Stevens, Renata Scotto, Helen Traubel, Kirsten Flagstad, Anna Moffo, Richard Tucker, Grace Bumbry, Cecilia Bartoli, Bryn Terfel, Ruggero Raimondi, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, Susan Graham, Alain Vanzo, Alain Fondary, Alain Vernhes, Gabriel Bacquier, Franco Corelli, Nicolai Gedda, Angela Gheorghiu, Jose van Dam, Cheryl Studer, Waltraud Meier, Siegfried Jerusalem, Giulietta Simionato, Fedora Barbieri, Ebe Stignani, Carla Gavazzi, Gigliola Frazzoni, Gina Cigna, Iris Adami Corradetti, Magda Olivero, Jessye Norman, Elena Obraztsova, Mirella Freni, Marilyn Horne, Brigitte Fassbender, Renée Fleming, Ruth Ann Swenson, Samuel Ramey, Agnes Baltsa, Edita Gruberova, Regina Resnik, Kathleen Battle, Barbara Hendricks, Regine Crespin, Beverly Sills, Shirley Verrett, Wolfgang Brendel, Lauritz Melchior, and many other huge names in opera. Even more so, I started to be a fan of Italian and French operas. I did not start warming to German operas until much later in my life. This came to a head when I begged my parents for us to go to Italy, so that we can see some opera and some places of great music. From there we had a tour all around Italy and we even passed by the Arena di Verona, though we did not get to see any opera. However, I did find a huge opera book I knew from the back of my mind I was going to love. Even more so, this was when I was my maternal grandmother’s most loyal concert buddy, although our days of going to concerts together became more sporadic in my teen years. From age eleven to twelve, I got myself introduced to classical crossover artists like Amici Forever The Opera Band, OperaBabes, Mario Frangoulis, Josh Groban, Russell Watson, and Hayley Westenra. Yet I also got myself into the likes of Giorgio Tozzi, Nicola Zaccaria, Tito Gobbi, Mady Mesplé, Gwynne Howell, George London, Leonie Rysanek, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Olaf Bär, Lisa Della Casa, Catherine Malfitano, Milena Kitic, and Carmen Giannattasio. So much so, that during the time my maternal grandmother and I were in New York, I bought myself an opera magazine and this and I started to get myself familiarized with certain music review terminology. It was also at that moment we were either at the New York City Opera or the Metropolitan Opera House, that I saw a picture of Kathleen Battle. The tour guide was so amazed that an eleven-year-old boy like me can automatically recognize a face like hers. My gran and I even saw Alcina starring Christine Goerke and Madama Butterfly starring Chen-Sue Panariello and Brandon Jovanovich at the New York City Opera House. Speaking of being twelve, I acquainted myself with singers like Anna Netrebko, Marcelo Alvarez, Leontina Vaduva, Bruce Ford, Salvatore Licitra, Ryoko Sunakawa, Juan Diego Florez, Rolando Villazon, Erwin Schrott, Ana Maria Martinez, Adrianne Pieczonka, Alice Coote, Elizabeth Futral, Margaret Thompson, and Lawrence Brownlee, just to name a few. I even found myself admiring the Chinese lyric soprano, Ying Huang, whose CD of Italian opera arias I bought when I was in Manila for my fall break with my parents and siblings. I have enjoyed listening to it so much, and I hope to review it. During the time I was on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France, Madrid, and Barcelona in Spain, and Frankfurt in Germany, I was able to pick up on languages so effectively, so much so, that I had a go in trying to speak Italian to a young Italian man by the name of Omero. He did correct me and these days, I might consider myself a tad bit fluent, all thanks to the bel canto and verismo operas I listen to and the conversations I hear on YouTube. By Christmas 2004, I was ecstatic to have been given that same book I saw in Italy when I was ten by my parents and maternal grandma. This became my reading material as this left me hooked from beginning to end. Everything about it was so…
This was yet another historical piece of work from Meyerbeer to add to my accomplishments of operas I have been longing to review for the longest time. The question remains, how well does this illustrious cast headed by Gregory Kunde, Clementine Margaine, Elena Tsallagova, Derek Welton, Noel Bouley, Andrew Dickinson, and Seth Carico stack up? Enjoy the review and let me know your opinions as well.
Let us now venture into the Saarländer Staatstheater’s darkly somber production of Gioacchino Rossini’s final opera, the ever-popular, ever-mythical, and ever-epic grand opera Guillaume Tell starring the veteran Italian dramatic baritone, Davide Damiani, as the main hero, and the ravishing Japanese basso cantante/profondo, Hiroshi Matsui, as the villainous Gessler. Enjoy the review and let me know your opinions as well.
Ah, Kabale und Liebe, known in English as Intrigue and Love, by Friedrich von Schiller. When this piece of German theater is put into opera by one of Italy’s most influential composers of the mid-19th century, then high-caliber singing is to be expected to serve the drama well, especially when there is a solid cast consisting of Marina Rebeka, Ivan Magrì, George Petean, Marko Mimica, Ante Jerkunica, and Judit Kutasi. Enjoy the review and let me know your opinions as well.
Let’s say farewell to 2017 and hello to 2018, with the pristine, classy, exceptional, and awesome Madame Joyce DiDonato, whose New Year’s concert all the way from Berlin was an absolute thrill. Enjoy the review and let me know your opinions as well.