December Highlights on WVIA-FM
Saturday, December 2nd, 1pm
For the first time since 2008, James Levine conducts a special series of concerts of Verdi’s great mass, written in memory of Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni. The company has assembled a quartet of extraordinary soloists to join the incomparable Met Orchestra and Chorus: Krassimira Stoyanova, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Ferruccio Furlanetto.
Sunday Concert Hall: San Francisco Symphony
Sunday, December 3rd, 2p
Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham is the featured guest artist as she performs music of Hector Berlioz: La Mort de Cléopâtre and Les Nuits d’été. Michael Tilson Thomas will also conduct the Haydn Variations of Brahms and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4.
The Magic Flute
Saturday, December 9th, 1p
The Met’s English-language family version of Mozart’s enchanting masterpiece has become one of the city’s essential holiday traditions. Evan Rogister conducts Julie Taymor’s spellbinding production, with special holiday pricing and a 100-minute running time. Nathan Gunn reprises his much-loved portrayal of the bird-catcher Papageno.
A sublime fairy tale that moves freely between earthy comedy and noble mysticism, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte in the original German) was written for a theater located just outside Vienna with the clear intention of appealing to audiences from all walks of life. The story is told in a Singspiel (“song-play”) format characterized by separate musical numbers connected by dialogue and stage activity, an excellent structure for navigating the diverse moods, ranging from solemn to lighthearted, of the story and score.
Sunday Concert Hall: San Francisco Symphony
Sunday, December 10th, 2p
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts a program of contemporary music that includes both the Scènes de Ballet and Petrouchka of Igor Stravinsky, and John Adams setting of poetry of Walt Whitman The Wound Dresser featuring baritone Thomas Hampson.
Saturday, December 16th, 1p
“Ponselle, Milanov, Sutherland, Callas … after last night, Radvanovsky can add her name to the list,” declared the Huffington Post when Sondra Radvanovsky made her Met role debut as Norma in 2013. The 2017–18 season opened with a new production of Bellini’s masterpiece, starring Radvanovsky as the Druid priestess and Joyce DiDonato as her archrival, Adalgisa—a casting coup for bel canto fans. Tenor Joseph Calleja is Pollione, Norma’s unfaithful lover, and Carlo Rizzi conducts. Sir David McVicar’s evocative production sets the action deep in a Druid forest where nature and ancient ritual rule.
The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays
Sunday, December 17th, 2p
In February 2016 Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips and WFMT producer Matt DeStefano introduced The Film Score, celebrating great music composed for the movies. For the 2017 Holiday season WFMT presents The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays, an hour-long edition devoted to music of the holidays and wintertime. In addition to beloved standards (“White Christmas,” from “Holiday Inn”), Michael introduces film music, ranging from “It Happened in Sun Valley” (from “Sun Valley Serenade”) to Alexandre Desplat’s wintry, folk-inspired score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to Bernard Herrmann’s bracing sleigh ride accompaniment composed for the Orson Welles drama “The Magnificent Ambersons.” Bundle up and enjoy The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays.
Le Nozze di Figaro
Saturday, December 23rd, 1p
An exceptional ensemble of performers—including Ailyn Pérez, Nadine Sierra, Isabel Leonard, Luca Pisaroni, Mariusz Kwiecien, and Ildar Abdrazakov—share the stage in Mozart’s comic yet profound look at human nature and one crazy day in a wealthy Spanish household. Acclaimed Mozartean maestro Harry Bicket conducts Richard Eyre’s high-spirited production.
A profoundly humane comedy, Le Nozze di Figaro is a remarkable marriage of Mozart’s music at the height of his genius and one of the best librettos ever set. In adapting a play that caused a scandal with its revolutionary take on 18th-century society, librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte focused less on the original topical references and more on the timeless issues embedded in the frothy drawing-room comedy.
The Messiah Sing-Along
Sunday, December 24th, 2p
It’s become the regional holiday tradition for families and music lovers that gives music lovers the opportunity to join with The Arcadia Chorale in performing one of the great masterworks of the choral art. Recorded by WVIA at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Scranton, PA
The Merry Widow
Saturday, December 30th, 1p
Susan Graham sings the title role of the fabulous woman of the world who sets out to conquer glamorous old Paris and get the one thing that has eluded her—a commitment from her playboy first love. Lehár’s delightful score of lush waltzes and beautiful ballads will sparkle with a supporting cast of Andriana Chuchman, Paul Groves, and the inimitable Sir Thomas Allen. Ward Stare conducts.
Lehár’s captivating romantic comedy was the biggest success of the composer’s career and, along with Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, represents the most enduringly popular example of the operetta genre. Set in Paris, the story centers on Hanna Glawari, a fabulously wealthy young widow from a fictional Eastern European country and the attempts of its ambassador to find her a new husband in order to keep her fortune in the country and save it from bankruptcy. Mixed in with this are Hanna’s unexpected reunion with a former admirer and the flirtation of the ambassador’s wife with a young Frenchman. The plentiful opportunities for a wide range of romantic and humorous stage magic are obvious, particularly within the operetta format of musical numbers interspersed with spoken dialogue.