Wednesday, March 16, 2016

42nd Street!

Busby Berkley eat your heart out!

As a slightly early 86th birthday celebration David and I saw the matinee performance of 42nd Street at the Cadillac Palace this afternoon.

Talk about your tap dancing! Those people must have gone through several pairs of tap shoes just in this performance. One big number after another. One show-stopper after another. Too much? You bet!! Just right!

Image result for caitlin ehlinger

The show started life as a motion picture in 1933. I was only 3 years old at that point and we were in the height of the Great Depression, so I missed that one. It starred Ruby Keeler, Warner Baxter, Guy Kibbie, and Bebe Daniels.

In 1980 it was produced on Broadway and has had numerous stage productions since then. The Music and Lyrics are by Harry Rubin and Al Warren.

I saw it on Broadway in 2001.

Image result for matthew j taylor  Matthew J. Taylor

In today's performance it was just as lively and spectacular as it was in 1933. The cast was headed by Matthew J. Taylor, Kaitlin Lawrence, and Caitlin Ehlinger. They all had great 'Broadway' voices and Mr. Taylor has an amazing set of pipes!

Image result for kaitlin lawrence  Kaitlin Lawrence

One enormous production number after another, one fabulous costume change for the entire cast after another; one set of tired feet after another- I can only imagine.

Image result for caitlin ehlinger  Caitlin Ehlinger
Considering what passes for 'Musical Theatre' on Broadway today, this takes the cake. One hit song after another. You could leave the theatre humming the tunes. You probably have heard most of them before you got there.

What a great way to spend an almost birthday afternoon in Chicago. If you are nearby, don't miss it!! 


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Romeo et Juliette

This has been a very good season for  Chicago Lyric Opera as far as casting. Last night David and I heard another splendid cast perform Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. 

The gorgeous score was conducted by Emmanuel Villaume and the Chicago Opera Chorus again stole the show in their various scenes.

Image result for eric cutler opera singer

Romeo was sung by tenor Eric Cutter. What a great voice! His singing was simply stunning, tossing off high notes like it was nothing at all. A tenor to be reckoned with!

Image result for susanna phillips

Susanna Phillips sang the part of Juliette.  She has a very beautiful voice with one small flaw. On her highest notes she does not allow the voice to follow through. The highest notes tend to lose energy and vibration and straighten out. If any of my readers have this same problem, here is my solution: first, be sure you take a proper breath leading up to the note, second, when you get there, allow the air to move through the note, and third, as you leave the note, allow a puff of soundless air to escape. Your high note will have focus, energy, and beauty. When you do not follow these three rules, the high note may straighten out, the vocal cords will close as you leave the note, and the note will sound a little tight and uncomfortable. I treat this problem in one of my books on singing. I call it 'Now that I'm up here, how do I get off???' Free voice lesson!  

Image result for christian van horn

Christian Van Horn was the excellent Friar Lawrence, singing with a rich basso voice that covered the entire range beautifully.

The rest of the cast sang very well and the one set production worked.

This was my last opera of the season at Lyric and it has been a fine season. Almost all of the singers we heard were top level, the hall itself works beautifully, and the orchestra never drowns out the singers.

Met Opera take notice!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Der Rosenkavalier

Last night David and I wallowed in glorious singing at Chicago Lyric Opera. The occasion was a superb performance of Der Rosenkavalier of Richard Strauss.

This was one of the best casts I have ever heard in this opera, and I've heard a few. Elizabeth Schwarzkoph at the Old Met, Regine Crespin at the new. Evelyn Lear, Cheryl Studer- I could go on and on. Tonight's singers could rival any of these.

Image result for amanda majeski

The Marshallin was sung by Amanda Majeski, who has a perfect Strauss voice: sensuous, limpid, golden. Able to cover the wide ranging role with beauty and ease. Here is a great Strauss singer.

Image result for alice coote

Equally fine was the Octavian of Alice Coote. Her large, rich voice commanded the difficult role with ease. She is a little short for Octavian, but anyone who can sing like this can be any height she chooses.

Image result for matthew rose bass

Matthew Rose was a fine Baron Ochs. He could reach the top and bottom (low E) of the role without seeming to try and was very funny in the part.
Image result for christina landshamer

Sophie was sung by Christina Landshamer, who had the requisite float for this very high role and a lovely sound.

All of the other roles were very well sung and the orchestra, under Edward Gardner, was superb in this glorious score. The orchestration is a marvel.

My late, dear friend Dorothy Fee, told me that Vittorio Giannini had worked under Strauss.  Dorothy studied composition with Vittorio and was a close friend. Vittorio, whom I knew slightly, said he learned as much about orchestration playing Skat with Strauss as in lessons. His opera The Taming of the Shrew bears this out.

The sets, 24 years old, don't quite come up to the Met but Act 1 was especially beautiful. The Met stage is much larger and they have equipment to move scenery around that Chicago Lyric is trying to obtain through a major fund drive.  

In 1999 I presented three of my wonderful students, Judith Gray, Janet Brown, and Barbara Rearick in recital in Weil Hall at Carnegie all. It was titled  Love, Women, and Song. Our final selection was the great Trio from Der Rosenkavalier and these fine singers sang it beautifully. This incredible piece was going through my head all night long and is still there this morning.

Bravi to a sensation cast and production of my favorite opera!