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November Opera News- The Annual Diva Issue

 Today, we call popular entertainers such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce Divas, but the Italian term,which mean Goddess, comes from opera, where legendary singers such as Maria Callas and the recently deceased Dame Joan Sutherland have been described as Divas for much longer. The November issue of Opera News magazine is devoted to operatic Goddesses past and present.

  The stunningly beautiful Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, who is far more than mere eye candy,is on the cover,and Opera News managing editor Oussama Zahr has an extended interview with this operatic superstar in which she discusses her career plans,pet peeves among conductors and directors, her relationship with her husband,Uruguayan baritone Erwin Schrott ,and their little boy,now two years old,among other things.

  The veteran American soprano Deborah Polaski, one of today's leading Wagner singers , and who is still active and in remarkably good vocal shape at the age of 61, is also interviewed,and the renowned vocal coach Ira Siff offers an appreciation of the legendary Italian soprano Licia Albanese, still alive and nearing her 100th birthday !

  Freelance writer and frequent Opera News contributor William R. Braun discusses the great artistry of the late,lamented American mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who died of cancer four years ago in her early 50s and is still greatly missed by opera lovers everywhere . Another freelance writer,Patrick Dillon, has an intriguing article on loudness,or the lack of it ,in opera singing , and discusses how recordings can often make singers with less than huge voices sound much more powerful than they sound live in the opera house ,and how the size of opera houses worldwide,which varies from the enormous 4,000 seat Metropolitan to the much smaller ones of Europe,which tend to seat only about half that many or fewer, can make a difference in how singers sound to audiences.

 The magazine's correspondants have reviews of opera performances from the Santa Fe Summer opera festival in New Mexico ,the Glimmerglass opera festival in Cooperstown,New York, the Bard college Summer opera productions led by the neterprising conductor Leon Botstein, also President of the college, the Seattle opera's new production of Tristan &Isolde ,and in Europe,the Bayreuth and Salzburg festivals.

  There are CD reviews of new recordings of operas by Handel, and the first recording of an obscure 18th century opera by a little-known German-born but Stockholm-based composer Christian Freidrich Haeffner, a contemporary of Mozart and Beethoven based on the famous ancient Greek play Electra, which Richard Strauss truned into the much more famous early 20th centruy opera Elektra . The reviewer finds it to be surprisingly good, as well as an album of excerpts from the Strauss opera a nd others by the acclaimed American soprano Christine Brewer.

  The DVD reviews include Berg's Wozzeck caught at the Vienna State opera, Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte from the Zurich opera, Aida from the outdoor Bregenz festival in Austria,Verdi's Falstaff sung in German from Vienna in 1963,and the bizarre Shostakovivh opera The Nose, which the Metropolitan permormed last season from Moscow in the 70s.

  There are book reviews of a new biography of Wagner's second wife Cosima, daughter of the legendary pianist and composer Franz Liszt,and who survived her husband by nearly 50 years, and a fascinating ,controversial and influential woman, by Oliver Hilmes,which I recently read and recommend highly, as well as a history of French opera by Yale scholar Vincent Giroud.

  No one who loves opera can afford to miss an issue of this magazine,and even if you don't know much about it and are curious to learn more, you will always find Opera News an absorbing read. Check out the website, too.

Posted: Nov 01 2010, 09:03 AM by the horn | with no comments
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