Why I Read the “Mom Blogs”

If you follow me on Twitter, one of the things that you shall notice almost immediately is that I share a great deal of information through retweeting other people or entities’s Tweets. I possess a great belief that what I read and those pieces of information that I enjoy discovering shall of interest to at least a portion of my esteemed followers. Because I consider the tidings or manifestations of others to be important for people to read, I elect to share their compositions of the written word. These minute postings of 140 characters or less are comprised for the most part of Tweets that relate information concerning classical music and opera performances or occurrences. However, since I am a man of diverse interests and experiences, other Tweets shall make their way into your Twitter feed if you do not mute my retweets after your maiden day of following my humble musings. If you are an astute, careful observer, you shall notice pieces of news about current events, an occasional witty remark from an endeared person or organization whom I follow, a great quantity of upcoming or historical stage performance information, a rare fact from the annals of history, stories of enticing vacations and excursions to enticing locales, and, yes, Tweets with links to the “Mom Blogs.”

The mom blogs are blogs for mothers, written by mothers, and designed to appeal to mothers, and their purpose is usually thought to be to help another mom as she embarks upon the noble, illustrious, and lifelong journey of rearing and nurturing her most precious possession, her child. Indeed, we might also add to this general view of this enterprise that some consider it to be a way to passively boast about the achievements of the perfect family that proves most elusive to remainder of us who consider ourselves normal. Nevertheless, while there is a good deal of this that one may witness if we search for it, I am here to discover to you, my dear reader, that nothing could be more erroneous in an assumption than one involving that limited set of criteria.

Therefore, having discovered the oppressive misconception of this corner of Internet literature, what, then, is a “mom blog” exactly? As I have heretofore mentioned, it is written by a mother, it is intended to concern motherhood, and because of this it is designed to appeal to actual mothers, but it is here that we must forget any of our preconceived ideas or mold into which we confine these sources of information. To do this successfully, we must approach the definition of motherhood that is contained in the inner part of our minds in what is perhaps a new manner. If I may be quite colloquial regarding this, “This ain’t your grandma’s version of motherhood.” Indeed, parenting may be considered as educating and preparing one’s child for the world when they are old and mature enough to function within most of its myriad of situations without any sort of negative consequences to his or her character. By that interpretation of it, the enormous responsibility of motherhood does not cease at about the age of twelve when a young adolescent believes that he or she has nothing more of any value to learn from one’s parents. It must continue for the remainder of a matriarch’s life.

As the fleeting path to a child’s adulthood commences, parents must assemble an array of knowledge, wisdom, and morality from nothing to impart to their child. They have no foundation upon which to elaborate, so they must construct this for themselves. This can be both a bane and a blessing. Once the course to follow is elected, a mother must decide to include other elements of life to enhance her child’s knowledge of the ways in which life operates. This is often where the mom blogs are first consulted as authorities or assistance to a mother’s inclinations.

Upon the pages of a mother’s blog, there is a wealth of diverse and extraordinary information to be culled by anyone who shall peruse what she desires to say. Of course, there are the usual posts concerning the tooth her child lost last week, the sippy-cup incident in which the lid magically was removed and cranberry juice stained her new dress in the process, her son’s maiden venture into the realm of purposeful deceit after which she cried more than he did from being punished, or her daughter’s unfortunate encounter with the girls who form the climax of the social landscape in her fourth-grade class as they teased her over some petty, minute article of clothing. However, if you glance at a few other posts, what you find may pleasantly surprise you. As you shall learn, a mother’s blog is never entirely similar to the previous one you have found, and each mother includes a unique element to her blog that you shall not find anywhere else. While you voraciously read the pages of a newly-discovered addition to the library of blogs documenting the commonplace history of motherhood as it continues, for they most often prove to be compelling reading, topics including Broadway, music, literature, art, sports, academics, economics, travel, and cuisine shall present themselves to your curious mind and astonished delight.

Because we have now learned that the mom blogs contain greater diversity than we first were likely to imagine, the question yet lingers as to why I continue to make the effort to pursue my reading of these pieces of literary thought. Though it may not be quite so entertaining, there are certainly other places in which to obtain this information. Why, then, do I continue to loyally read them? I was formerly employed by a community theatre, and I was immensely blessed beyond measure to work on producing and leading two children’s productions for the stage. I assistant directed a Christmas-themed musical for children ages 4-16, and I was one of the group leaders and assistant directors for our production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians that we staged with children 3-16. I count it as one of my greatest privileges to witness the excitement and pure elation that most children receive in becoming fully acquainted with performing on stage in those early, magnificent years of their childhood that exist prior to the age of about ten. Before they have attained ten years of age, the world still retains a profound element of wonder that is all too often lost as we mature. As I was continually confronted by it every day for two months for each production from those children, it reminded me of what we our veritable purpose in life ought to be. When children are free from the corruption of the world that comes with our experiences in life, they have but one concern, which is to act in perfect, unadulterated kindness toward everyone they meet. Why should we be dissuaded from such a practice? I continue to peruse and recommend the treasures of wisdom contained in the blogs of exceptional mothers because they ultimately encourage us to explore this side of ourselves in discovering the world to a child. We need not be a parent to engage in such an action, nor should we wait until we have been bestowed such a blessing to search for this sort of information. We find interest in exploring some random or previously unconsidered aspect of life. We are encouraged to capture every moment’s full potential as a means through which to help someone else with whatever sort of difficulty we may see. We find inspiration to treat another person, who may even be a complete stranger, as a member of our family so that we may brighten the day of another person in some fashion. I beseech you for the permission to ask what could possibly be better or of greater importance to any of us than this initiative. Do yourself a favor and read some of these “mom blogs,” and never look at them in your former manner again.

The Culture Mom

MamaDramaNY

Broadway World, Jr.

Mommy Posh

From Hip to Housewife

Take 2 Mommy

     This brief list is only a ripple upon the pool of blogs concerning every fact of motherhood on the Internet. I have chosen ones that relate most to my interests, which I pray that you also shall enjoy. I possess the extraordinary pleasure of following all of these exceptional ladies on Twitter, and they are among the most courteous and gracious people with whom one could hope to be acquainted through the marvel of the Internet, and I readily proffer their publications as a place of origin to proceed upon this glittering path to discovery. I am ingratiated to all of them for providing their wisdom and revelations to all of us even if I occasionally disagree with their views upon certain subjects. I leave you to experience them for yourself.

     Thank you immensely for enduring this post, and I pray that all of you are well and that God blesses you tremendously of late. I continue to remain pleasantly yours,

     Tyler Barton.

The Changes Life Prompts

Of late, as I am certain that many of you are aware and perhaps might have experienced, the United States’s government has been vigilant in trying to insert itself into our properties on the Internet. As it seems, Google, with their admirable attempts at synchronizing an entire person’s life to the fewest number of integrated websites upon the Internet, has implemented new policies that can track users to an even fuller extent, and their executives are highly placed within the Obama administration. Of course, this has yet to even consider the chilling policies of Cass Sunstein that are trying to be implemented by our Congress. Though SOPA and PIPA are removed from us for the present, they have not been fully defeated, and if they do not return to us, ACTA, a similar piece of legislation that comes from Europe will arrive upon us if we do stand against the government trying to infiltrate our daily lives.

It was for all of these reasons that I have since cancelled and deleted my Google+ account, my Google Profile, and my membership of Facebook is almost completely nonexistent. While Twitter does have a few problems with encroaching upon rights of the individuals, it is not quite so blatant or covert as Google’s has become. Therefore, I abandoned Blogger after a short while of learning all of these facts, and I must say that I am rather sad at this. Blogger is by far the best blogging service I have ever seen, and I now know why people leave other blogs for Blogger. It is the easiest to use, nor does Blogger charge you money to be able your template to fix the appearance.

For the present I make my social home here, and I hope that everyone shall make the currently pleasant journey with me.

–Tyler.

The Addams Family National Tour

   If I may dedicate this post to the often forgotten alternate topic of the listed subject matter of my blog, Broadway, I should like to discuss the national touring production of Broadway’s late production of The Addams Family. This new musical makes its debut in Oklahoma City this evening, and I shall be witnessing it tomorrow evening at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City. The tour is welcomed and presented by Celebrity Attractions, which is responsible for much of the theatrical productions of high quality in my state. Through the generosity of the organization, and in conjunction with their desire to increase their social media identity, they hold a contest for their shows that allow their followers on Twitter to witness a performance in exchange for sharing their experience through the means of Twitter. Along with a few other grateful patrons, I won a pair of tickets on Friday to this Tuesday’s performance. The only requirement for the tickets is that you tweet about the performance at least four times during the evening, which I shall readily do.

   The people responsible for this show’s creation are Andrew Lippa (John and Jen), who composed the music, Michael Brickman and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), who wrote the book, Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) choreographed the production, and Phelim McDermott, who is also the director of the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of The Enchanted Island, and Julian Crouch directed and designed the staging. This production opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 8, 2010, and the show continued there until its close on New Year’s Eve of 2011 for a total of 725 performances. In its original incarnation it starred Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth, Jackie Hoffman, Kevin Chamberlain, Carolee Carmello, Krysta Rodriguez, Wesley Taylor, Adam Riegler, and Zachary James. A notable and surprising cast change that occurred later was that of Brooke Shields replacing Neuwirth, and Shields stayed with the production until its closure. The national tour began on September 25, 2010, and it has finally made its way into my city, and its next stop is Tulsa, Oklahoma.

   The musical based on the beloved characters from the stories by Charles Addams and the television series these spawned introduces an entirely maiden story to the collection in which Wednesday Addams, the family’s daughter for those such as I who are unfamiliar with the background of the characters and their story, finds a boy, Lucas Beinike, she likes. However, a problem presents itself in the fact that this young man who has become the object of her affections is entirely normal. This “delightfully macabre” musical chronicles the journey of the family’s adventures as they struggle to accept the thought of Wednesday’s new beau and his and his family’s being normal.

   This production opens tomorrow evening, and it plays until Sunday, January 22, 2012, at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City, which is located at 201 North Walker Avenue in Downtown Oklahoma City.

   Thank you for perusing my post, and I hope that the new year has remained kind and leisurely for all of you. May God pour His blessings upon you.

-Tyler.

Bass-Baritone Thomas Quasthoff Announces His Retirement from the Stage

   Much to the sorrow and surprise of many in the world of classical music, German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff released a press announcement through his representatives that he shall retire from public performance due to health reasons. He is fifty-two years of age, and these tidings came with an outpouring of sympathy and sentiment for the legendary performer from many renowned vocalists on the social media platform Twitter, and I expect that tomorrow will bring even greater coverage of the happening. I am not familiar with the ailments that plague this revered performer, but I am certain that he shall be sorely missed by his colleagues. He shall continue to teach at the Hans Eisler School of Music in Berlin, Germany, and he assures his audience that he shall explore another portion of life, the vast area of politics and current events. I recall a blog post from Joyce DiDonato in reference to this singer. Her particular post that I recall documented a day of rehearsal for a gala in honor of Marilyn Horne. Quasthoff was rehearsing with astute and serenely gifted accompanist Martin Katz at the piano, and Joyce was simply overwhelmed by the intimacy of his performance of Wie bist du, meine Konigin. Though the concert hall was bereft of the usual audience it accommodates, Joyce reports that Quasthoff sang with perfection, and it was so endearingly exquisite that it brought her to tears. Indeed, I can imagine that those tears of regret of which she spoke shall readily flow again once she hears of the news.

   Thomas Quasthoff is best known as one of the most skilled and erudite interpreters of Lieder. Though he has some reputation in the world of opera, he never sought to tax himself in this art form, and we possess few memories of his work on the stage; however, his operatic endeavors were held as triumphs, and he was respected all the more for those efforts. I am not as familiar with Quasthoff’s contribution to the recorded legacy of German art song, which I must confess is a great travesty; moreover, I do not maintain any capacious knowledge upon the subject of lieder in general, but I do possess a disc of Quasthoff’s that was released under Deutsche Grammophon in which he was accompanied by pianist Justus Zeyen. I am blessed to have it, and I shall have to hear it now to acquaint myself with the surreal elegance of his voice of which I have heard so much. He has won numerous awards and accolades during his career that has spanned almost forty years. including the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize, three Grammy Awards, and an Echo Klassik Award.

  From his press release that was manifested today, he had this to say.

   “After almost 40 years, I have decided to retire from concert life. My
health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art
and myself. I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness.
On the contrary, I am looking forward to the new challenges that will now enter my life. I
would like to thank all my fellow musicians and colleagues, with whom I stood together on
stage, all the organizers, and my audience for their loyalty.”



   This announcement and the happening it foretells reminds me of why I seek to capture every moment I may to make the most of its opportunity in life to help another person or to improve their life in any means that they shall allow. Furthermore, it also brings the painful truth to my attention that there are yet chances that I must miss to experience the best of life. As a prospective, hopeful opera singer, I currently witness the world of opera from without the confines of the professional or even amateur branches of the industry, and I hear and see singers with whom I should desire immensely to perform, with whom I wish to endeavor to recreate the sublime environment that certain performances manufacture. Nevertheless, as I grow older, these singers that arrest my attention and humble, sincere hope that I may be granted to perform with them in the future also gain in age, and this naturally precludes me from ever knowing any of them in a professional capacity. As much as I may wish to sing with Renee Fleming in an opera or upon the concert stage, the thought resides in the dim space of my mind that the possibility of this desire becoming an actual occurrence is truly minute. My spirit weeps that I can make no effort to preserve these dreams in myself or others without this logical conclusion’s intrusion upon the hopes of those who possess such dreams.

   I pray that I find you in excellent spirits for the coming year, and I hope that God grants you every blessing. Thomas Quasthoff shall leave a tremendous void in the world of classical music, but I look to the next generation of followers in the art to make every attempt to fill it. I proffer my gratitude to all of you for continuing to read my musings.

-Tyler.

Danielle de Niese Releases Beauty of the Baroque Today

For those of us who have been patiently waiting in expectation for a new release from soprano Danielle de Niese, our want is now finally relieved today, for her latest album, Beauty of the Baroque, is released today. I first consciously listened to this soprano in a video on YouTube in which she sang Handel’s famous aria Lascia ch’io pianga, and I have faithfully listened to her since then at any time I am given the chance. Her voice is quite clear, which makes her a natural choice for the Baroque repertoire.While it is interesting to note that she has recorded a pleasant variety of music on her solo offerings, I am glad to see that she has returned to this period. Personally, I am enamored with Baroque music, which is the primary cause of my elation at this release, but we may also rejoice at the quality of collaboration that her two forays into this specialist’s field of music have brought to our ears. To my enduring delight, her debut recital of works for recorded media featured the formidable and revered Les Arts Florissants under the direction of their distinguished and renowned founder, William Christie. In my opinion, which I shall admit is a trifle biased, such an early forging of relations between such a performer and and almost peerless ensemble is a definite indication of the sort of talent that de Niese possesses.

   In this new release, we are promised much of the same magic that exists in such a pairing as the one I have just described, for her new collaborators are Harry Bickett, the esteemed Handel specialist, and The English Concert. Judging from Bickett’s recent triumph at the Metropolitan Opera, where he conducted Rodelinda with Renee Fleming, Iestyn Davies, and Andreas Scholl, this promises to be a sumptuous and elegant program. Indeed, the album itself seems to exude this latter quality in every aspect of its being, for one can see such a trait in the title of the release and the artwork that has been utilized. The music itself lends itself to this description, and we begin to notice a hint of regalia that has been imbued into the album. After having released a disc of Handel arias, de Niese does not shy from including that famed composer in this new recording, and we find her singing arias that exhibits her in a more mature light than we have previously noticed her because of the roles she presently sings. The track list is as follows.

John Dowland (1563–1626)
1. Come again, sweet love doth now invite [2:42]
2. What if I never speed? [2:31]
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
3. Aria “Ombra mai fu” (Serse) [2:54]
from Serse, Act I
Libretto: anon., after Niccolò Minato & Silvio Stampiglia
4. Air “Let the bright Seraphim” (Israelitish Woman) [5:34]
from Samson, Act III
Libretto: Newburgh Hamilton
Henry Purcell (1659–1695)
5. “Thy hand, Belinda – When I am laid in earth” (Dido) [5:07]
(Dido’s Lament)
from Dido and Aeneas, Act III
Libretto: Nahum Tate
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
6. Air “Heart, the seat of soft delight” (Galatea) [4:10]
from Acis and Galatea
Libretto: John Gay and others
Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)
7. Duet “Pur ti miro” (Poppea, Nerone)* [4:35]
from L’incoronazione di Poppea, Act III
Libretto: Giovanni Francesco Busenello
8. Quel sguardo sdegnosetto 3:01
from Scherzi musicali
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
9. Duet “Io t’abbraccio” (Rodelinda, Bertarido) [6:53]
from Rodelinda, Act II
Libretto: Nicola Francesco Haym
10. “Guardian angels” (Beauty) [5:59]
from The Triumph of Time and Truth, Act III
Libretto: Thomas Morell
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1736)
11. Duet “Stabat Mater dolorosa” [3:56]
from Stabat Mater
Libretto: attrib. to Jacopone da Todi
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
12. Aria “Sich üben im lieben” [4:38]
from the Cantata Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202
13. Aria “Schafe können sicher weiden” [4:46]
from the Cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208

   I am fairly certain that I know what I shall be purchasing with my available Amazon gift cards today. I neglected to previously mention that countertenor Andreas Scholl joins de Niese on three of the tracks on this disc, which is a welcome occurrence, and I maintain high hopes for this release. Depending upon what other recordings are released this year, this may well be one of my favorites. Danielle DeNiese is performing a concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City on January 23, 2012, to coincide with the debut of this album, and the event will be streamed live from (Le) Poisson Rouge’s website.

   I express my immense ingratiation to all of you who continue to peruse my posts concerning opera, and I pray that all of you are extraordinarily blessed as the new year greets us with all of the possibilities and happenings that may occur. You are quite at liberty to post a comment on any of my posts, and you may also subscribe if you are so inclined.

-Tyler.

Music and Feeling it: Patricia Petibon’s Melancolia

  When one thinks of Spanish music, the mind is instantly overrun with a variety of textures, thoughts, and words to describe the flair and tradition of Spanish music. What makes music identifiable as Spanish, French Italian, or anything else? In the case of the music from the Iberian peninsula or inspired by that genre, it is filled with passion. We feel intense amounts of emotion when we perform this music, but it is a rare, extraordinary discovery to feel these rapturous feelings when we hear this music, and I am pleased to announce that soprano Patricia Petibon delivers this often neglected aspect with her various interpretations. Her new release from last November 2011 is titled Melancolia, and she is joined by the Orquestra Nacional de Espana under the baton of conductor Josep Pons.

  I think of Spanish music as more exotic than most western music I hear, and I imagine that my association with the mysterious parts of life that we as humans label as unknown and all at once beckoning to us comes from the influences that helped to shape this form of music as we see it in its current state of evolution today. In precisely the same context as Spanish cuisine, art, and architecture have been influenced by the Moors of northern Africa, their music was not immune to such an injection of ideas from their southern neighbors and enemies. Until the time of the Renaissance and the Crusades, music in Europe was written for a cappella arrangements. However, after the Crusades, soldiers returned to their native lands with stringed instruments which were precursors to the lute and the guitar, two prominent makers of music in Spain.

  In the flow of years that came afterward to Europe, a new variety of music exploded on the continent. Spain, being the gateway into the east from the west, attracted some of the most diverse styles in music. In those early days of music’s largest achievement in Europe, I cannot think that there must have been much difference or variation between the music of Europe and the music of the Easterners, for the former was in it’s infancy, but it has developed into what we have today from those humble beginnings. As we consider Spanish music, we conjure thoughts of spice, warmth, and emotion. It is with the final category that soprano Petibon has sought to identify herself with this release, but she endeavors to open our senses to the area of <i>melancolia</i>, the melancholy, that inhabits much of the musical language of Spain.

  For much of this refreshing album, she achieves her goal. The repertoire she has chosen might easily be classified as mere Spanish art songs, which does not adequately describe the material for my want of precise categorization of the work. To settle for that summation alone, one would be guilty of an inferior classification for a grouping of songs that display many unique qualities that make each of them memorable. In the album’s booklet, which is published in four different languages for the benefit of an international audience, Petibon informs how she approached the material to include on this disc.

  “I spent a long time thinking about the programme for this disc, creating a mixture of music, and finally I settled on one unifying idea: the feeling of melancholy, which is a reflection of Spain itself,” she says. “The disc is a journey through different styles, but through folk music as well, which has a strong presence on the disc. The theatrical element is very important, too, and at the centre is the character of Salud in Falla’s La vida breve. She embodies the melancholy of the title,  the loss of hope. Melancholy is a balance in life, a sadness that binds us to death. Salud represents the darkest side of melancholy that tends toward tragedy. But this sort of melancholy can also depict the radiance of childhood, of joy and laughter. What I wanted to explore through this disc was the journey between these two poles.”

  Indeed, as she iterates, melancholy can be used to illustrate a current situation, or the feeling may serve to recall a time of illumination when life was more enjoyable or simpler to our minds. I think the selection that best illustrates the latter definition of melancholy on this disc is Heitor Villa-Lobos’ famous Aria (Cantilena).  It has often been recorded by many a popular music artist, Hayley Westenra being a more recent notable one, but Petibon breathes new life into this song. No longer is it simply a progression of notes in her voice’s ample range; with her interpretative gifts that I admire so much, she transforms this otherwise common piece that might otherwise suffer from too much exposure at the hands of others into a mournful ballad in which one can find a reference to a time of previous joy that was known. One of the distinct qualities of her voice that I find almost unique to her is her ability to take a piece of music and to convey any sort of emotion in it. I like it best when she throws caution and what many musicologists and musicians might call rigid structure to the wind and sings with an almost reckless abandon. It is then that she shines tremendously, for she places the music and herself in such a vulnerable state. In those instances when she feels the music demands it, she lets every typical convention depart, and she simply lets the music and its sentiments carry her with them. It is a brilliant device, and I wish more singers would take these sorts of urgent chances.

  Our first glimpse of this bold, delicious flavoring from her voice comes from the melodies of Joaquin Nin y Castellanos. In El Vito’s musical orchestration and the intuitive flair with which she creates her phrases, we catch a promising view of the folk elements of this disc. While it is certainly not a cause for operatic purists to lament, for Petibon does not fully remove herself from her instinct as a classical vocalist quite yet, as the piece progresses through the solo interlude of the guitar, and the percussion is added, the soprano allows the music to envelop her voice, and we gleefully notice that the ingredients of a truly scintillating performance are evident. The dance that the title indicates slowly forms beyond our broad expectation for such a title devoid of any real description, and the colors we hope to find in the experience of listening to this song initiate their definitions of themselves to our attentions. She never truly loses her classical style here, but we are given a pleasant preview of what is to come in later tracks.

Petibon addresses this facet of the recording in the booklet accompanying the release. She says, “…In terms of sound, I was just as keen to find different vocal colours as instrumental ones. I didn’t want to use an operatic voice all the time – sometimes you must forget your training to be able to return to the roots and use your instinct as an interpreter. […]” She certainly accomplishes this goal admirably on this release, and Spanish music lends itself quite well to this endeavor. Cantares, which is composed by Joaquin Turina, reveals more clearly these intentions and takes the reckless abandon that we hope to find to an almost complete culmination in Petibon’s exclamations of “Ay!” They are produced with little attention to classical training beyond the necessary support from the abdominal area of the body, and they contain the desired effect of sufficiently pulling us into the music. Even if a listener does not comprehend the Spanish lyrics, it is impossible to be ignorant of the fact that this is an exuberant, rousing, joyous song. Indeed, if you heard this song without any context from the album, you might be tempted to wonder how it deals with the theme of melancholy. The subject of the song is dealing with the sadness that comes from leaving a happy relationship.

  For all of this disc’s merit, which is considerable and quite a nice departure from the standard classical vocal fare, there are two tracks that immediately dampen the tone of the album for my liking. Xavier Montsalvatage’s two contributions to the music both sound like pieces from the Romantic era, and one could well mistake the Cancion de cuna for a composition by a contemporary of Puccini’s. The Canto negra that is featured in this programme shows some of his predilection for the avant-garde in music at the time, but it generally sounds like it comes from the middle of the previous century, which is not a particularly innovative time in music. Much of it sounds very similar to everything else, and most of the composers outside of Germany and England seemed content to refrain from much experimentation in their creations. These two selections almost seem out of place on this album; indeed, one might expect to find them from a Spanish film of the lately aforementioned period.

  For my review of this disc, I have elected to save one of the most exciting elements of this project for the latter portion of my excursion into the musical landscape of this territory. The final four tracks on the release are a world premiere recording of four songs written for Patricia Petibon. New commissions of music do not usually capture my adoration, nor am I altogether certain that this one shall do so entirely, but composer Nicolas Bacri gives Petibon a cycle of songs entitled Melodias de la melancolia. These songs begin with A la mar. It deals with a person who goes to the sea to sing her sad song so that she does not have to endure the tears that would otherwise reveal themselves if she were forced to confront her sadness alone. Petibon does not allow the opportunity for dramatic or emotional effect to pass her with this inception that is shrouded in mystery. Her voice perfectly connotes the unknown cause of sadness that plagues the protagonist of this episode, and we are left to only imagine what misfortune has befallen this woman. The chords that are formed by the orchestra produce an eerie, anxious atmosphere that only serves to heighten our agitation for this character. What is to become of her? Will this be the final time she visits the sea because she decides that she may find more comfort in allowing it to swallow her than to return to her existence? We are left to ponder this as the agony is slightly revealed in the vocal line.

  The second song is called Silencio mi nino. In this lyrical episode, a mother implores her child to sleep and forget the wrongs of the day as the night visits them. She assures her son that she will not leave him and that she will comfort him in his sorrow. The swells in the orchestra paint a scene of a peaceful night beginning to show itself to the world and help to urge the child to do as his mother bids him and go to sleep.

  Musically, the third piece takes quite a departure from our previous two. The score here sounds much more agitated and discontent than it has previously done, which is the perfect pairing for the text it ushers. In this piece, which has quite a high sustained range that Petibon delivers exquisitely, the narrator expresses disappointment and perhaps even disdain for love. It is clear that love has become a meaningless part of life that is bereft of happiness. This song seems to adopt a true melancholy for its driving force, for sadness is not an appropriate attribution of what this person is feeling.

  The final piece of music is entitled simply Solo, and it is a lonely expression of what qualities a state of melancholy lacks. The music accompanying the voice here betrays no sense of hope for a future improvement of life to a more jovial state. Instead of any wish for happiness in the coming days, it exhibits only the sorrow of life in a state of melancholy, and all that remains is “the sweet and secret melody of my melancholy.”

  Throughout this recording’s endearing aural pleasures, we are consistently reminded of Petibon’s emotional connection to this music through her voice. She intones every phrase with some purpose to illustrate the song with some sense of the theme of melancholy, and it serves to unify the entire disc’s material. I am immensely proud of this effort from this soprano, and I think she is often underrated. I maintain every hope that she will be engaged for a recital tour of the United States in the near future, and I would dare to add to that hope that I might attend one of those performances. My immense ingratiation is proffered to Decca Classics and Deutsche Grammophon for sending me this new release, and I privileged to be able to hear such wonderful artists as this one certainly is.

  I hope that all of you shall enjoy this remarkable new release to the fullest extent, for I certainly think it to be one of the most promising I have heard from this year, and I hope that God continues to bless all of you as this present year vanishes from our lives, and we are greeted with the numerous pleasures that the new year shall bestow upon us. Please accept my humble gratitude for enduring my post, and I hasten to remind everyone of The Metropolitan Opera‘s pastiche of Baroque works, The Enchanted Island, starring Danielle de Niese, Joyce DiDonato, Placido Domingo, and David Daniels among others. It is being streamed from the Met’s website on New Year’s Eve!

–Tyler.

Lucia di Lammermoor at Washington National Opera

In the examination of my traffic statistics for my blog, I notice that my most popular post lately is one that describes a small portion of Sarah Coburn’s career. If the events of the world of opera have any bearing upon the amount of visitors that are brought to my individual posts, it might well be stated that the present production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the Washington National Opera. Soprano Sarah Coburn is Donizetti’s mad heroine, and the remainder of the cast includes Michael Chioldi, and Saimir Pirgu.  I have heard many praises of this production on Twitter from many sources, and it appears that Coburn is making quite an impression on the audiences who attend.

Philip Kennicot gives us a review of the production. Since I have not seen the production, I must rely on the written narration of another to clarify the production’s idiosyncrasies and nuances that are exclusive to it. He mentions the shortcomings of the set design, which reveals itself probably most prominently in the fact that there are no doors within the walls of the flats, and this impedes the action onstage, for the chorus is rumored to find it necessary to climb through the windows. Obviously, there is some dramatic effect that is sought to be obtained in this direction and design, but Kennicot finds it more distracting than thought provoking, which seems only natural to me. While there may be some missed interpretation to be considered in that particular scene change, it is completely wasted on one who cannot focus on the important actions of the principals that inhabit the stage while they fear for safety of chorus members who might suddenly tumble through a window or who is unsuccessful in blocking the exiguous noise from the vital music that is being heard. Though the production has its flaws, this critic still appropriates acceptable marks to it for the effectiveness of its lighting and the difference of interpretation that it may inspire in opposition or dissidence to another production that a viewer may have previously witnessed. This mounting of Lucia di Lammermoor puts Lucia in a far more innocent state of being than we usually encounter in the operatic world, and it is becoming far more popular for the heroines of new productions to be envisioned as teen-aged adolescents. I have some qualms with this approach, one of which is that I think it leads to a sweeping generalization of the diverse characters that are present in opera, but this seems to create a more validated and acceptable transition for an audience into Lucia’s insanity that she eventually acquires.

As for the cast’s abilities, Kennicot calls the cast he saw, which featured Sarah Coburn, “compelling.” He further elucidates regarding her that her voice has genuine character and all of the clarity and speed for which one could hope. I am most elated to hear such praise for this soprano, for she used to attend my university, and she was the first opera singer that I have ever seen perform. The tenor Saimir Pirgu received words of praise from our critic, as well, and he was reported to complement Coburn quite well. It would appear that there is no flaw in the vocal aspect of this piece. One piece of information that was not conveyed, which I should have been very glad to know, was whether or not the original glass harmonica orchestration was employed for the mad scene. One of the opera companies whom I follow on Twitter mentioned that they were running the production with the original orchestration, but I cannot recall if it was the Washington National Opera or otherwise. I much prefer the glass harmonica to be included by the orchestra, for it adds a new dimension to the haunting, eerie quality of the madness that we discover in Lucia.

I express my immense ingratiation to all of you for continuing to peruse my posts, and I hope that all of you are extraordinarily blessed in life. I wish everyone an Happy Thanksgiving despite your nationality, for a day of feasting in honor of giving thanks for God’s providence is a commendable course no matter what nation claims your heritage.

-Tyler.