Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spotlight

  • I must begin by reminding everyone about tonight's recital. Don't forget to go to Takaoki Onishi's Juilliard Graduation Recital, which will start at 8.30pm and which will be held at the Paul Recital Hall in Juilliard. Unfortunately I can't attend because I am across the street at the Met for a performance of Otello, but if you go drop us a line on how it was.
  • Friday March 15th was the second presentation of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. These recitals are a great way to listen to the new upcoming talent at the Met in an intimate setting. All events are free to the public and are followed by a reception with delicious wine by Wollfer Estate. Last week the audience had a chance to watch Ryan Speedo Green and Anthony Kalil in concert. They are both in the Lindemann Program, second year and first year respectively, and they were accompanied by Lindemann pianists Bryan Wagorn and Nimrod David Pfeffer. What I always find interesting about these recitals is the choices of music. Do not expect to hear mainstream arias, but prepare to be dazzled by beautiful music which the artists usually would not have much chance of performing. For example, Ryan performed pieces such as Urlicht and Die Vätergruft, while Anthony performed Copland's Old American Songs. The recitals are going on for several more weeks, with different artists every time. You can check the schedule on the Met's website.
  • Tuesday night saw one of the last Met Talks of the season; the topic for the evening: Handel's Giulio Cesare and the Met's new production by David McVicar. When I go see the performance in April it will be my first time seeing this opera, so any background information is always welcome. If this is your first time as well and you would like to find out more about the production and the opera, check back next week for a post on this topic.
  • Risë Stevens, beloved mezzo-soprano who had a 23-year career with the Met, died last Wednesday at the age of 99.  Although I never had the chance of seeing her perform (she stopped performing on the Met stage in 1961), there are some wonderful videos available on YouTube, including of her most famous role, Carmen.  Mrs. Stevens entered the first Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air in 1935-1936, the pre-cursor to our modern day Grand Finals (check here to read the full history), but lost.  However, by 1938 she made her debut at the Met and played a major role there ever since.  For many years she was the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions.  To find out more about her amazing career, you can read the New York Times obituary.  My favorite quote about her from the article is below:
"In Ms. Stevens’s 351 regular appearances at the Met, her professionalism was perhaps never more apparent than it was in one of her many productions of “Samson et Dalila.” Playing the temptress Delilah, Ms. Stevens reclined on a chaise longue to sing the aria “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix,” among the most famous seductions in opera. One night, overcome with theatrical passion, Samson flung himself onto her mid-aria.  Samson did not know his own strength. Under his considerable force, the chaise longue, on casters, began to move. Ms. Stevens sailed offstage and into the wings, still singing."
  • As part of the Young Associate membership at the Met we get to do many fun things. As a matter of fact, it is how I got involved with the auditions. This morning there was a brunch with one of the Met's prompters, Carrie-Ann Matheson, who was featured in the wonderful documentary "The Auditions." The event was aptly called "Tales from the prompter's box" and was preceded by a wonderful brunch backstage at the Met. If you have always wondered what a prompter's role really involves, check back this coming week as well for a write-up on the event.
  • Don't forget to check out the NY Times tomorrow for a great interview with Met General Manager Peter Gelb. If you can't contain yourself you can read the article online already, and it includes an amazing look at the backstage workings of the Met.  I take a backstage tour of the Met every year as part of the Young Associates Program, and it is always an unforgettable experience; each year is different.  This year I was actually lucky enough to see the lifts (discussed in the article) in action; and I got a sneak peek at next year's productions in October because the scenic shop was already working on the new production of Die Fledermaus.  In the tour they don't let you walk out on the stage because they are always busy setting up for the evening's performance, but about five years ago I had a chance to walk out on the Met stage as part of an Open Rehearsal Day.  All I have left to show of the day are some grainy pictures (this was before the iPhone era), but looking at them still makes me breathless.  If you wish to take a backstage tour of the Met, you can find more info here, but if you can take a tour during the week.  That is when the opera house is bustling with action and you can see the true workings of an opera house.