Jump to content


Photo

My cousin-in-law's an opera star!


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,610 posts

Posted 09 December 2010 - 11:00 AM

I don't know about any other country, but here in Canada, Mennonites are a fairly significant part of the music scene. Among their ranks is one Colin Balzer, who married a cousin of mine I-don't-know-how-many years ago (and sang to her beautifully during the wedding ceremony, after she'd walked down the aisle). I'm not an opera buff myself, so I've only checked out one or two of his performances online so far, but it's always cool to see family members getting notices like this in outlets like Time Out New York:

Colin Balzer may not be a familiar name, but this British Columbian lyric tenor’s terrific intonation, easy agility, sly interpretive charm and linguistic acumen have brought him comparisons to Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Richard Croft. Trained in Canada and Germany, Balzer is an active concert-and-recital singer in Europe. A regular star in the lavish, historically researched stagings of the Boston Early Music Festival, Balzer has worked with some of the best Baroque conductors in the business, including Bernard Labadie, Louis Langrée, Helmuth Rilling and Marc Minkowski (with whom he sang his first Idomeneo last year in Germany).

On Sunday, Balzer makes his overdue New York recital debut in a program of works by Haydn, Schubert and Britten, accompanied by his stylistically sensitive countrywoman, pianist Erika Switzer. The pair brought a Philadelphia audience to its feet in a similar concert last year. Schubert is always the prime test of a lieder singer, but Haydn’s charming English-language songs are rarely programmed. And Balzer has a special affinity for Britten; here he’ll offer the challenging but rewarding cycle Winter Words, as well as some of the composer’s beloved folk-song settings. . . .



#2 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 27 August 2011 - 11:10 PM

I suppose this is as good a thread as any to make our default "opera thread." I've been itching for one for a while. I don't know 'bout you guys, but I love opera. Probably my favorite narrative art form right behind film and the novel (I maintain that the Chicago Lyric Opera's production of Alban Berg's LULU a few years back is the greatest theatrical artistic accomplishment I've ever had the pleasure to witness). This, of course, puts me in a very small group of Americans, since the tragic erosion of musical literacy has really taken hold over the last century or so, and opera is now a dwindling art form. Nevertheless, I am intent on loving it even if contemporary American culture is intent on giving it the cold shoulder.

One of the great delights I have about living within driving distance to NYC is that it gives me relatively easy access to the Met. Last year, it was TOSCA and BORIS GODUNOV. This year, it will be GOTTERDAMMERUNG and THE MAKROPULOS CASE. My wife and I are also considering one of the Verdi operas, like AIDA or NABUCCO, though this will depend on whether or not we take a trip up to New York for the New York Film Festival.

And, as I hijack this thread, I think congrats are due to your cousin-in-law, Peter. I'm a little jealous; there was a time when I contemplated pursuing a career in opera, and sometimes I think I ought to have done it. Has your cousin-in-law gone on to do more work of note since?

#3 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 02 September 2011 - 11:33 PM

I'm becoming an enormous fan of Regina Resnik's voice.



Her voice has gained depth with age, descending down into the baritone range:



#4 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 08 May 2012 - 10:31 AM

Just saw THE MAKROPULOS CASE at the Met this past weekend. A stylish production, to be sure--the second act takes place backstage after what appears to have been a performance of AIDA, with our desirable protagonist draping herself over an enormous sphinx--though the real star was Janacek's awesome score:



#5 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:07 AM

My wife and I were not overly enthralled with the Met's 2012-2013, but we finally settled on two operas, both by Verdi: DON CARLO and RIGOLETTO. I've never seen either of them. DON CARLO seems like a safe choice--the opera itself is wonderful, and the staging running at the Met has been widely acclaimed--but RIGOLETTO is a bit of a risk.

The Met's new production of RIGOLETTO, which actually premieres today, sees Verdi's opera set in 1960s Las Vegas (see the picture below). It's the latest in a series of risky "reinvented" productions the Met has been doing to seem more cutting-edge and contemporary. Many of their attempts to do this so far have met with decidedly mixed reactions (the new TOSCA and Ring cycle are deplored by opera purists, and even as a non-expert like myself who enjoyed these productions, I have to confess that both productions had serious, serious problems).

Placing RIGOLETTO in 60's Vegas works on a conceptual level--it finds a resonable parallel to the hedonistic court of the Duke of Mantua in the Vegas of the 1960s--but the Vegas setting is also so specific--more importantly, so specifically American--that it might not blend well with mid-nineteenth century Italian opera.

Posted Image

Edited by Ryan H., 28 January 2013 - 11:09 AM.


#6 Joel

Joel

    Member

  • Member
  • 745 posts

Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:33 PM

Given this thread's title, I can't possibly pass up the opportunity to mention that my brother-in-law is the assistant director of the Met's production of Rigoletto. It looks pretty cool. Please feel free to continue to use this thread to discuss your in-laws' involvement in opera, everyone.

#7 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 30 January 2013 - 07:49 AM

Given this thread's title, I can't possibly pass up the opportunity to mention that my brother-in-law is the assistant director of the Met's production of Rigoletto. It looks pretty cool. Please feel free to continue to use this thread to discuss your in-laws' involvement in opera, everyone.

Wow. Well, congrats are due to your brother-in-law. It seems that RIGOLETTO was pretty well-received. I can't wait to see it in May!

#8 Andy Whitman

Andy Whitman

    Member

  • Member
  • 3,238 posts

Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:52 PM

Given this thread's title, I can't possibly pass up the opportunity to mention that my brother-in-law is the assistant director of the Met's production of Rigoletto. It looks pretty cool. Please feel free to continue to use this thread to discuss your in-laws' involvement in opera, everyone.

My brother-in-law has SEEN an opera, although he can't recall which one. He claimed to be bored, although he does like Rigatoni. He also likes "Bohemian Rhapsody," which is similar to an opera, I think.

#9 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 31 January 2013 - 01:04 PM

Impressive…. I can see how a 60’s Vegas casino might work – don’t know about the Duke as a Frank Sinatra type (or Tony Soprano- ?).

From most reports, the Duke-as-Frank-Sinatra approach works well. Reviews have been a little less fond of the Rigoletto-as-Don-Rickles aspect of the show.

FWIW, multiple reviews have referenced a staging back in the 80s that set RIGOLETTO in "Little Italy" with Rigoletto as a bartender and the Duke as a mafia boss.

I remember going to the opera years ago and thinking what a terrible plot, what gorgeous music.

Thems be fightin' words. RIGOLETTO has a great story. Or at least RIGOLETTO has the kind of story that's perfect for opera.

Edited by Ryan H., 31 January 2013 - 01:05 PM.


#10 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:24 PM

On Wednesday, my wife and I saw DON CARLO at the Met, which was absolutely magnificent. It was the best production I've seen at the Met, by far.

Ferruccio Furlanetto brought the house down when he performed the great aria, "Ella giammai m'amo":



#11 Nathan Douglas

Nathan Douglas

    Overeager beaver of the sacramental cinema.

  • Member
  • 512 posts

Posted 08 March 2014 - 04:25 AM

Saw DON GIOVANNI at the Vancouver Opera this evening. It was as stunning as I'd expected, even from the second last row in the house, but for one unfortunate choice: the Commendatore's ghost/statue never makes an actual appearance onstage, but is treated as a disembodied presence. Perhaps this is a standard choice these days? I can understand how concerns about a greyed-out actor or prop seeming too cartoony might have spurred that decision, but the end result robs the finale of some of its delightful strangeness. Not a huge misstep, but a misstep nonetheless.

On another note, it struck me as very strange to hear the closing admonition to turn from sin for "you shall die according to how you live" at a big cultural event in a city as liberal as Vancouver in 2014.

Ryan, Don Carlo is next on the VO schedule. If it's as good as you say, I'll have to shell out for that one too.

#12 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,459 posts

Posted 08 March 2014 - 12:39 PM

Saw DON GIOVANNI at the Vancouver Opera this evening. It was as stunning as I'd expected, even from the second last row in the house, but for one unfortunate choice: the Commendatore's ghost/statue never makes an actual appearance onstage, but is treated as a disembodied presence. Perhaps this is a standard choice these days? I can understand how concerns about a greyed-out actor or prop seeming too cartoony might have spurred that decision, but the end result robs the finale of some of its delightful strangeness. Not a huge misstep, but a misstep nonetheless.

On another note, it struck me as very strange to hear the closing admonition to turn from sin for "you shall die according to how you live" at a big cultural event in a city as liberal as Vancouver in 2014.

It's very easy to go too far with that final scene in Don Giovanni (the current Met production really botches it). That said, I agree that you have to have a physical presence on stage for that scene to really hit home.
 

Ryan, Don Carlo is next on the VO schedule. If it's as good as you say, I'll have to shell out for that one too.

Oh, you have to check out Don Carlo! It boasts an incredible score and an incredible story. I don't think Verdi wrote a better opera (and given his body of work, that's saying quite a bit).

For me, next on the opera docket is Berg's Wozzeck, which I'll be seeing March 22nd at the Met.



#13 Anodos

Anodos

    Member

  • Member
  • 378 posts

Posted 08 March 2014 - 01:28 PM

 

Ryan, Don Carlo is next on the VO schedule. If it's as good as you say, I'll have to shell out for that one too.

Oh, you have to check out Don Carlo! It boasts an incredible score and an incredible story. I don't think Verdi wrote a better opera (and given his body of work, that's saying quite a bit).

Let me second the praise for Don Carlo. There was a good production at Covent Garden last year; well, musically speaking, although the sets left something to be desired. Anyway, it really is one of Verdi's best.


Edited by Anodos, 08 March 2014 - 01:29 PM.