This is a fun one. The Act 2 finale of The Marriage of Figaro is chaotic and fast and always gets me bouncing. There used to be a recording available on youtube of the Metropolitan Opera’s 1999 production of Figaro with Bryn Terfel, Renee Fleming, and Cecilia Bartoli and I’d hoped to share that video of the Act 2 finale with you today, but I wasn’t able to locate it. So here’s one with Thomas Allen and Carol Vaness. Singers who are also pretty super duper.
Also: this video is only of the second half of the Act 2 finale. It’s a long finale. Hope you enjoy!
Johnny Flynn is maybe my favourite singer-songwriter. Along with Paul Simon. He’s a baritone and has a really lovely rich sound, I think. In addition to playing guitar, which you’ll see in this video, he plays trumpet and violin. And he’s an actor. If you like this video, you really should just go listen to a bunch of his stuff because I had a hard time picking just one song to share here.
On Saturday night, Jeremy attended a performance of Wagner’s opera Goetterdaemmerung at the Canadian Opera Company. Wagner wrote notoriously long operas (Goetterdaemmerung’s running time was 5 hours and 20 minutes, including two intermissions) and the orchestra is gigantic. Like, so many horns. You can imagine when all those brass instruments are playing at once it’s a force to be reckoned with. So now, imagine how loud a person must be able to sing in order to be heard above all of that and the stamina required to sing such a long opera. And with that in mind, allow me to introduce you (if you don’t know her already) to Christine Goerke. She sang the role of Bruennhilde and Jeremy kind of adores her voice. (I really like her too, though I’m not nearly as into Wagner as Jeremy is. And so, he’s become rather smitten with Christine Goerke.) Goerke strikes a fantastic balance of having the volume and ring to cut over a gargantuan orchestra, while always maintaining a beautiful, even tone.
We hope you enjoy her performance of “O don fatale” from Verdi’s Don Carlo.
Last week we featured Shoshana Bean with Postmodern Jukebox. This week, our inspiration is Morgan James. She’s collaborated with Postmodern Jukebox a lot and her covers are seriously impressive. If you have time, check out her covers of Take Me to Church and Barbie Girl (where she imitates a theremin). But for now, here’s her performance of Dream On.
Have you heard of Shoshana Bean? I’m sure in musical theatre circles she’s the equivalent of a household name, but to this opera singer she’s a relatively recent discovery. Here she is covering “Stone Cold” with the Postmodern Jukebox (who do AWESOME stuff, if you’re not familiar with them).
Those of you who follow our Monday Inspiration series have likely figured out that I love musical theatre. I also like folk music. What you probably don’t know is that I kind of love listening to opera singers sing spirituals. Namely Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle.
A few months ago, a video popped up on my newsfeed of the opera singer Jessye Norman performing “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. Naturally, I clicked on it (remember the aforementioned love of opera singers singing spirituals…) What I hadn’t known until then is that Norman’s now using a wheelchair. I believe she was 71 years old at the time of this recording that I watched, and it was so inspiring to hear the richness of her voice, given the limitations imposed on her by her age and physical condition.
Now, after all that, I can’t find the video to share with you!! So, here’s a performance of Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle performing the same song back in 1990. It’s big, loud, totally over the top, and all kinds of wonderful. And after listening, if you, too, find yourself loving this kind of music, you can watch the entire concert on youtube!!
It’s the Monday before Christmas! We’ve had Christmas music playing in our house (or being sung by students during their lessons) for the last couple weeks, so I thought today’s Monday Inspiration could be David Phelps’s rendition of O Holy Night. I’ll be the first to admit that while this isn’t the style of music I usually go for, his singing is pretty impressive. If you don’t have five minutes to listen to the full performance, skip ahead to the 2:25 mark where he starts flinging out high D-flats all over the place.
“Zefiro torna” is a beautiful duet by Monteverdi. This performance is by soprano Nuria Rial and countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. I love this piece for the precision required to sing all of those vocal runs and the tightness of the ensemble between the singers and instrumentalists. Enjoy!
Okay, we’ve already featured Sherrill Milnes once (in a thrillingly face-melting duet from Otello) but his voice is pretty excellent so I don’t feel badly about sharing another performance of his with you. This time, it’s the prologue “Si puo” from the opera Pagliacci (aka “Clowns”, hence Milnes’s get-up) by Leoncavallo.