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Metropolitan Opera Guild News: April 2009

Espléndido” Plácido Domingo will be the lauded and applauded guest of honor at the 74th Annual Metropolitan Opera Guild Luncheon on April 23 at the Waldorf=Astoria – a few months after his 40th anniversary at the Met.  Colleagues past and present will join family and friends to celebrate his unique career and artistry.  Among those expected to salute him are Dolora Zajick, who will give a vocal tribute, and Martina Arroyo, Marilyn Horne, James Levine, Sherrill Milnes, and Samuel Ramey, who will speak about their onstage collaborations with Domingo.  The honorary guests will also include his colleagues Isabel Bayrakdarian, Harolyn Blackwell, Wolfgang Brendel, Joseph Calleja, Rosalind Elias, Barbara Frittoli, Denyce Graves, Soile Isokoski, Julia Migenes, Aprile Millo, Leona Mitchell, Elena Obraztsova, Regina Resnik, Julius Rudel, and Diana Soviero.  Tickets to the luncheon are available at (212) 769-7009.

April’s Opera News features a cover story about acclaimed dramatic soprano Christine Brewer, whose personality, free spirit, and innate musicality are captured in William R. Braun’s profile titled “The Divine Miss B”.  She beams her blazing soprano and keen artistry upon the role of Brünnhilde at the Met this month, taking on a crucial part in the company’s farewell to Otto Schenk’s long-lived “Ring” production, in the first complete “Ring” cycle of her career.

The Met’s final revival of Schenk’s “Ring” staging, which premiered on the opening night of the 1986-87 season, provides the inspiration for several additional Opera News articles this month, including one from critic David Patrick Stearns, who argues that this iconic production – viewed by some critics as superannuated – offers more than immediately meets the eye.

American basso James Morris, the reigning American (and Met) Wotan of his generation, talks with Louise T. Guinther about his leave-taking from the production he has prized above all others.  The role in two operas of Wotan’s doomed son Siegfried has presented an outsize casting challenge for opera companies since Wagner’s day.  Matthew Gurewitsch surveys some of the historic and contemporary heldentenors who have attempted to forge Siegfried’s sword.  And, on the Opera News website, there’s an audio survey of Siegfrieds “then and now” (

As General Leslie Groves, young basso Eric Owens held up his end of the action in the Met’s recent staging of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic.  He has recently given performances of Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Philadelphia and at New York’s Carnegie Hall, with another Carnegie Hall appearance scheduled when he makes his New York recital debut this month.  Owens talks with David J. Baker about his wide-ranging musical enthusiasms.

Opera News reviews many different publications about opera and music – not just performances, recordings, and films.  Among the tempting items under consideration this month are a documentary about Max Lorenz, Bayreuth’s controversial wartime star; a “spectacular recital” CD from tenor Juan Diego Flórez, which is this month’s Critic’s Choice; and John W. Barker’s book titled Wagner’s Venice.

The Met Guild’s series of lectures and other opera-linked events grows each season.  April brings continuations of two series of great interest, including a repeat of Martin Bernheimer’s popular “Everyone’s a Critic: Lessons in Listening for the Armchair Enthusiast,”which sold out very fast earlier in the season.  “The Power and the Passion: Operatic Representations of Religion” concludes this month, and several “Ring”-related lectures are nearly sold out.

More information about lectures in April is in the list below.  And there is more Opera News available at – and yet more for Guild members and Met subscribers who may log in at the site for exclusives available only to them.

Upcoming Metropolitan Opera Guild Events:

Thursday, April 23 at 12:15pm – Waldorf=Astoria

¡Espléndido Plácido! – The 74th Annual Membership Luncheon

Please call (212) 769-7009 for tickets.

The Guild’s lectures will be held in the Metropolitan Opera Guild Opera Learning Center on the sixth floor of the Samuel B. & David Rose building at Lincoln Center, on the north side of West 65th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway.


Thursday, April 2 at 2pm – 3:15pm

The Power and the Passion: Operatic Representations of Religion

Prepared by Marie M. Ashdown; presented by Dottie Allen and Jane Marsh

Part 3 of 3: “Sympathy for the Devil: Opera’s Otherworldly Outsiders”

Religion and religiosity form a rich part of the operatic tradition.  Operas have found inspiration in stories from the Bible, in religious legend, in the battles between faiths, and in the individual’s search for salvation.  Mephistopheles, the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, and Lohengrin’s Ortrud – wicked, certainly, but also among our most beloved characters.  Creatures of the dark take center stage in this examination of opera’s demons, thanks to Marie M. Ashdown’s demystifying opera’s religious leanings.

Price: $16.00 

Due to overwhelming response, an Encore Presentation of this course has been added!

Tuesday, April 7 at 6pm – 7:15pm

Everyone’s a Critic: Lessons in Listening for the Armchair Enthusiast

presented by Martin Bernheimer

Four Tuesdays, April 7, 21, 28, and May 5

Ever wonder what makes some voices ring true, and others fall flat?  Or why some singers sound so right in certain roles, and so wrong in others?  Join Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Martin Bernheimer, as he surveys opera’s legendary singers, and learn how to critique the way critics do.  Audience participation is highly encouraged!

April 7: Splendid Sopranos

April 21: Marvelous Mezzos

April 28: Tremendous Tenors

May 5: Brilliant Baritones and Basses

Series Price: $54.00

Tuesday, April 14 at 6pm – 7:15pm

Wagner Lieds the Way

presented by Jane Marsh

Think you know Wagner?  Think again.  Join us as we look at the composer’s breadth through well-known arias and unfamiliar art songs in a vocal master class.

Price: $16.00

Saturday, April 18 at 10pm – 11:15pm

Opera Outlooks: “Ring” Cycle One

presented by Dr. Patrick McCreless

Wagner envisioned a musico-dramatic work in which the drama – the emotional experience and development of the characters – would actually motivate the music, rather than simply provide flimsy scaffolding on which to pin the set pieces that dominated opera at the time.  This lecture will focus on the interaction of drama and music in Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried (Acts I and II only) – the parts of the “Ring” that Wagner composed in a flood of compositional activity between November 1853 and July 1857, at which point he broke off composition of the cycle and turned to Tristan und Isolde.


Monday, April 27 at 6pm – 7:15pm

Opera Outlooks: “Ring” Cycle Two

presented by Desirée Mays

“The Parallel Universes of Wagner and the ‘Ring’”

Wagner worked on his epic for nearly 30 years; consequently, throughout the “Ring” there are echoes and reflections of events in Wagner’s personal life.  Using primary-source material, including Wagner’s writings and Cosima Wagner’s diaries, Desirée Mays reveals how the characters and stories of the “Ring” merge with the people and relationships of Wagner’s own narrative.

Price: $16.00

Wednesday, April 29 at 6pm – 7:15pm

Opera Outlooks: “Ring” Cycle Two

presented by Desirée Mays

“Heroes of the ‘Ring’”

Who are the heroes of the “Ring”?  Siegmund, whose courage and passionate love for Sieglinde are tragically crushed?  Siegfried, whose trusting nature leads him to be cruelly betrayed?  Wotan, trapped in the web of pacts and relationships built through his towering ambition?  Or Brünnhilde, the goddess who learns to live as a mortal woman and ultimately makes the supreme sacrifice?  This quest into the meaning of heroes in the “Ring” sheds light on how Wagner’s own philosophy evolved during the creation of his epic masterpiece.


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