Sunday, September 25, 2016
Message from a concerned Latvian musician, who requests anonymity: I am writing about the monopolisation of Latvian concerts… there is just one company running them. Concerts with distinguished musicians are being cancelled for no apparent reason. A leading cellist is being summoned to court for telling the truth on the national radio. The boss of Latvian Concerts, Guntars Kirsis earned 46,393 euros in 2014. An orchestra musician in Sinfonietta Riga makes 5,000 euros. Mr Ķirsis is very good friends with the Cultural Minister Dace Melbārde and with many of the ministers in the Latvian government. Musicians are afraid to speak out …especially those in Sinfonietta Riga whose work depends on ‘Latvian Concerts organisation. Leading musicians are seldom seen in Latvia because of the post-Soviet system: Kristine Blaumane, Vineta Sareika, Baiba Skride, Linda Skride, Lauma Skride, Elina Garanca, Andris Nelsons, Mariss Jansons, Kristine Opolais. The matters raised by our correspondent are of global concern since Latvia is one of the most productive sources of high-grade musical talent.
Elina Garanca has crashed out, ordered by her doctors to take a week’s break. She is replaced on July 22 and 24 by the Russian mezzo Ekaterina Gubanova – a fine artist but not quite the same fire-power as the other stars on show: Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel.
As a youngster, my parents took me once to see and hear a performance of the Opera “Tales of Hoffman”. It is a tuneful experience, and a story that is suitable for kids. It is great how a musical experience can stay with you for so long, as is the case for me with this Opera. This morning, I heard two great singers performing a selection from this work, and I want to share it with you. Here are Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca in the Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffman:
The New York Times has majored on the Met staging its first opera by a woman composer since 1903. The opera is Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin and its has been doing the rounds in Europe since its Salzburg premiere in 2000. Fellow-Finn Susanna Mälkki with conduct. Nice. Less encouraging is the realisation that only five other productions will be new. They are: Tristan und Isolde to open the season on September 26, with Nina Stemme, Stuart Skelton and René Pape, Simon Rattle conducting. Rossini’s Guillaume Tell follows with Gerald Finley is in the title role, Marina Rebeka as Mathilde, Fabio Luisi conducting. It hasn’t been done at the Met since 1931. Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette features Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo. Dvorak’s Rusalka will parade Kristine Opolais, Katarina Dalayman, Jamie Barton, Brandon Jovanovich and Eric Owens, conducted by Mark Elder. And finally, on April 13, 2017, Der Rosenkavalier with Elina Garanca and Renée Fleming, under the baton of James Levine. The casting throughout is superb, but you do wonder whether six new shows are enough to stir a sluggish box-office.
The Latvian mezzo gave a concert last night at the Latvian National Opera in memory of her beloved mother, who died of cancer in the summer. The concert was conducted by Elina’s British husband, Karel Mark Chichon. During the performance, Elina announced that Chichon’s father had died that day but he insisted on going ahead with the tribute performance to her mother. She said: ‘Today, this concert is very special to me. It has also become very special to Karel. Next, Janis Medins “Aria” is a dedication to his father, who has passed away today, at 12:30 p.m. I would like to ask you for a moment of silence…’ Families.
Elīna Garanča’s album – ‘Habanera’ – is full of the summer sounds from Spain! The disc is based around gypsies, with arias from Bizet’s Carmen mixed with various Spanish songs and a few other selections with a gypsy or Spanish flavor. ‘Habanera’ is a fine CD album which shows off the seductive voice of Elina Garanča to the fulest. The repertoire is a mixture of well-known and virtually unknown songs. You can hear a lot of flamenco influence throughout this disc and the accompaniments vary between full orchestra, small ensemble and guitar. The Spanish songs by composers such as Emanuel de Falla and Montsalvatge are also particularly enjoyable. Ms. Garanča’s appearance, acting, and singing are particularly well-suited for her temperament. Carmen is one of the most famous operas of all time, and there have been some great Carmen’s in the past, but I’m pleased to say that Garanča is right up there with the best. She sings with a seductive and alluring tone, and her technique is superb. Tenor Roberto Alagna also makes an excellent Don José for Elina. He seems to enjoy this role, and he sings with both power and refinement. Here is Ms. Garanča in an exciting video:
Great opera singers