Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond
The Gift of Music
November 28, 2011
Don’t kid yourself. Nobody really wants two front teeth or romance for Christmas. They want what they can’t have, and in lieu of that, they’ll take meaningless stuff that dulls the pain in the meantime. So to help you with this, I’ve put together my own little holiday gift guide. So if you’re one of those who feels compelled to participate in the orgiastic consumerism that is Christmas shopping in the U.S. (and trust me I’ve been there) here’s a collection of things I know I’d be pretty frigging thrilled to unwrap on the big day. I think they'd make great gifts for any classical music and/or opera lover you may know as well.
1. Let's start with the recent Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. Evelino Pidó conducts the Vienna State Opera in this performance filmed for Deutsche Grammophon starring Anna Netrebko and Elena Garanca in 2011. If you saw the Metropolitan Opera’s production of this bel canto sizzler, do yourself a favor and take a look at how its really done.
3. One of the most exciting U.S. operatic debuts this year by my ear was Lucy Crowe’s appearance in Handel’s Hercules in Chicago last spring. She’s also kicked off a series of recordings on Harmonia Mundi with Il caro Sassone, “The Dear Saxon”, a collection of works composed by Handel during his time in Italy. One of my favorite vocal performance collections of the year with the help of Harry Bicket and The English Concert.
4. For something a bit more historical and instrumental, the Canadian Broadcasting Company has recently reissued the entire series of documentaries and specials that Glenn Gould made for them between 1954 and 1977 on DVD. The set includes a wide range of material in the original uncut format for over 19 hours of viewing.
5. Nothing beats live opera though, and surely one of the hottest tickets in L.A. next year will be tenor Placido Domingo singing the baritone title role in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Los Angeles Opera starting February 11th. The cast includes Ana Maria Martinez, Vitalij Kowaljow, Paolo Gavanelli (!!), and Stefano Secco under conductor James Conlon. Domingo’s performance in this role have been hailed around the world and it’s a great chance to see him onstage right here in town.
7. If your looking for something a little lest oriented toward classical music, you can’t go wrong with a pair of tickets to see the touring production of Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones’ musical Fela! which will appear at the Ahmanson theater in Los Angeles starting December 14 for a six week run. The show was a high-energy barn burner with a red hot live band in New York and London and will surely make anyone on your list with an interest in world music thrilled.
10. And just in case you want a gift that doesn’t involve sitting in the dark and watching someone else perform, how about Evelyn Rillé and Johannes Ifkovits' The Opera Cooks which is available in English through the Metropolitan Opera gift shop online. This cook book collects some of the favorite dishes from the world’s biggest vocal stars with some highly amusing photography. A certain pleaser for any opera fan.