Recently in Commentary
I’m interviewing Stefano Mastrangelo in the immediate aftermath of his conducting La Traviata for the Chofu City Opera in Tokyo on 22 November 2014; he conveys an air at once of tiredness and exhilaration.
Apotheosis Opera is proud to announce their inaugural production
will be a fully-staged English translation of Richard Wagner’s early
masterpiece TANNHÄUSER on Friday, July 31, 2015, at 7pm and Sunday,
August 2, 2015, at 3pm at the theatre of El Museo del Barrio (1230 5th Avenue)
‘Competitions are for horses, not artists.’ The words of Béla Bartók seemed apposite on Sunday night at the Royal Opera House, as 11 soloists walked swiftly onto the Covent Garden stage, performed their chosen aria, briefly acknowledged the applause and then returned summarily to the wings.
Twin sisters – one pensive, the other gregarious – are soon to wed their beau, whose contrasting characters – one earnestly introverted,
the other a boisterous hedonist – perfectly match their respective betrotheds’.
Derrick Wang is a composer who graduated from law school and has an interest in this country’s highest court.
Sara Gartland is an emerging singer who brings an enormous talent and a delightful personality to the opera stage. Having sung lighter soprano roles such as Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata, Gartland is now taking on the title role in Leoš Janáček’s dramatic opera Jenůfa.
Madness descends upon Welsh National Opera for its autumn 2015 season, with three new productions that will explore human turmoil through some of the finest musical expressions of madness and the human condition.
American composer Jennifer Higdon has won many awards for her imaginative music. Her percussion concerto received the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
Bratislava in Slovakia might seem an unlikely place to come across the opera
I gioielli della Madonna (The Jewels of the Madonna) a 1911 rarity
written by the Italian/German Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, a composer best known for
his one-act opera Il segreto di Susanna ( Susanna’s Secret)
and his comedies based on Goldoni.
Last year’s Strauss anniversary year — 150 years since his birth —
offered, at least in the United Kingdom, a typical number of opportunities and
On 6 June, Jonathan Dove’s Flight touches down in Kensington,
west London. Opera Holland Park is to stage the first London production of
Dove’s operatic presentation of the real-life story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri,
the Iranian exile who, lacking residency rights or refugee status, was forced
to live in the departure lounge of Terminal One at Charles de Gaulle Airport
for 18 years.
San Diego Opera, the company that General Manager Ian Campbell had scheduled for demolition, proved that it is alive and singing as beautifully as ever. Its 2015 season was cut back slightly and management has become a bit leaner, but the company celebrated its fiftieth season in fine style with a concert that included many of the greatest arias ever written.
Kathleen Ferrier may have been one of the world’s finest contraltos but this year’s Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final, held at the Wigmore Hall, was all about lyric sopranos.
East Coast Premiere at Opera Philadelphia next season. Performances from Cold Mountain at the Guggenheim in New York this Monday, March 30.
Five Young Singers Named Winners of the 2015 Met National Council Auditions, America’s Most Prestigious Vocal Competition
Julia Noulin-Mérat is the principal designer for the Noulin-Merat Studio, an intrepid New York City production design firm that works in theater, film, and television, but emphasizes opera and immersive site-specific theatre.
A brand new opera — especially one that is groundbreaking— can really put an opera company on the map. British composer Barry Seaman’s stunning new work, Mirabai, which explores the story of the free thinking, mystic
16th century Hindu princess, Mira, is ambitious on many levels —
artistically, technically and creatively.
Bampton Classical Opera has announced that applications are now open for the
company’s Young Singers’ Competition 2015. This biennial competition was
first launched in 2013 to celebrate Bampton Classical Opera’s 20th
birthday, and is aimed at identifying the finest emerging young opera singers
currently working in the UK.
Anita Rachvelishvili recently performed the title role in Carmen broadcast by The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD. Here she drops by for a little chat with our Maria Nockin.
This is a revised version of my review of the Sept 5th
1991American premiere of The Death of Klinghoffer, at the
Brooklyn Academy of Music. The opera was first performed at Brussels’ La
Monnaie the previous spring.
28 Oct 2004
A Tribute to Robert Merrill (1919-2004)
MEMORIES OF ROBERT MERRILL: AMERICAN OPERATIC ICON by James Engdahl, Engdahl Artists International Robert Merrill, born Moishe Miller in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, passed away last Saturday, October 22, 2004, as he watched the first game of the World...
MEMORIES OF ROBERT MERRILL: AMERICAN OPERATIC ICON
by James Engdahl, Engdahl Artists International
Robert Merrill, born Moishe Miller in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, passed away last Saturday, October 22, 2004, as he watched the first game of the World Series on television. If there was anything that would have given him as much pleasure as his singing career did, it would have been playing baseball!
I have been asked to share my memories of Mr. Merrill. They were few but were each great lessons to me as a young singer as to what to expect from an artist's life.
The first time I saw Robert Merrill was after a Met performance of Un ballo in Maschera with Nicolei Gedda and Roberta Peters during my first year in New York. I had never seen either these artists before and I was very excited as I had tickets to three shows including the broadcast! Ms. Peters made the first appearance and sang well that day. Mr. Gedda entered and sang with his exemplary style but in the balcony, I found him hard to hear with the exception of his wonderful top voice. Then Robert Merrill entered to sporadic applause, something that truly surprised me, as here was one of America's greatest singers. His voice sounded a bit thin but with that wonderful color I had grown up admiring. He sang the rest of the opera well but I was a bit disappointed.
Next came the broadcast and Mr. Merrill made his entrance to huge applause and I joined in and smiled. Then he sang his first phrase and the size of the voice not only had doubled but that velvet gleamed for the rest of the afternoon. I mentioned this to a long time member of the Met family and he said, "Oh, that's because it was a broadcast and he wanted America to know he was still there!"
The next time I saw him was in concert where he sang arias like "Non piu andrai" from Nozze di Figaro and of all things, "O du mein holder" from Wagner's Tannhauser, both roles he had never sung on stage to my knowledge. The Mozart went well but I had a glimpse of the Catskills side of him I had heard of often but never seen. Then came the Wagner! Mr. Merrill stood silently of the stage and poured out his voice with an artistry I had never heard from him before. As I listened, all I could think about was what we missed in not hearing his Wolfram!
The third time I saw him was at a Richard Tucker Foundation Gala and I was wondering what he would sing. The Master of Ceremonies announced his name, the audience cheered and as the orchestra began the Toreador Song from Carmen, he burst onto the stage with an energy and virility that belied his age (around 70) and he sang superbly throughout the aria, although I noticed he has lowered it a step or so. He finished to a standing ovation and he was an icon across America again.
The last time I saw him was at a premiere at the Jewish Museum of a film highlighting Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker and Mr. Merrill's early appearances on television. As I saw him leave his limo, he had become fairly heavy and moved very slowly. He seemed disoriented as to where he was and where to go. His loving wife Marion guided him into the theater and we watched the film, an excellent documentary. The discussion panel announced his being in the theater and as I watched him rise from his chair, the performer's gleam and smile appeared and he knew just how to address the moment.
A singer, no matter how artistic, is like an athlete and remembered mainly by his last out appearance, I was glad I was there to see Robert Merrill, American operatic icon, hit one last ball out of the park!
[To hear Robert Merrill sing the Toreador Song, click here.]
Click here to join a discussion on the passing of Robert Merrill.