January Highlights on WVIA-FM

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Otello

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Saturday, January 5, 1p

Conducting sensation Gustavo Dudamel makes his Met debut leading Verdi’s towering Shakespearean masterpiece, in the first revival of Bartlett Sher’s gripping 2015 production. The cast includes dynamic tenor Stuart Skelton in the title role, star soprano Sonya Yoncheva as the devoted but doomed Desdemona, and outstanding baritone Željko Lučić as the treacherous Iago.

Often cited as Italian opera’s greatest tragedy, Otello is a miraculous union of music and drama—a masterpiece as profound philosophically as it is thrilling theatrically. Shakespeare’s tale of an outsider, a great hero who can’t control his jealousy, was carefully molded by the librettist Arrigo Boito into a taut and powerful libretto. All three lead roles are demanding—making the opera a challenge to produce—but the role of Otello in particular requires an astounding natural instrument capable of both powerful and delicate sounds, superb musical intelligence, and impressive acting abilities.

 

San Francisco Symphony

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Sunday, January 6, 2pm

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the Symphonie Fantastique of Hector Berlioz. Violinist Julia Fischer is featured in the Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 19 by Sergei Prokofiev

 

Adriana Lecouvreur

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Saturday, January 12, 1p

Soprano Anna Netrebko joins the ranks of Renata Tebaldi, Montserrat Caballé, and Renata Scotto, taking on—for the first time at the Met—the title role of the real-life French actress who dazzled 18th-century audiences with her on-and offstage passion. The soprano is joined by tenor Piotr Beczała as Adriana's lover, Maurizio. The principal cast also features mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili and baritone Ambrogio Maestri. Gianandrea Noseda conducts. Sir David McVicar's staging, which sets the action in a working replica of a Baroque theater, premiered at the Royal Opera House in London, where the Guardian praised the "elegant production, sumptuously designed ... The spectacle guarantees a good night out."

Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea occupies a unique place in the repertory: largely dismissed by experts from its premiere to the present day yet cherished by its fans for the dramatic possibilities provided by the lead roles. The opera is a deft combination of frank emotionalism and flowing lyricism, with pseudo-historical spectacle. Based on a play by Eugène Scribe, the story was inspired by the real-life intrigues of famed actress Adrienne Lecouvreur and the legendary soldier—and lover—Maurice of Saxony. Cilea's operatic retelling quickly became a favorite of charismatic soloists. The title character in particular is a quintessential diva role.

 

San Francisco Symphony

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Sunday, January 13, 2pm

Pianist Yefim Bronfman accepts the challenge of conquering Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto--The Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts this program that begins with Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, and a World Premiere of Pandora by Mark Volkert.

 

Pelléas et Mélisande

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Saturday, January 19, 1p

Debussy’s only opera, a mesmerizing meditation on love and betrayal, returns to the Met stage for the first time in almost a decade, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the landmark score. A pair of brilliant young Met stars, tenor Paul Appleby and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, are the naïve title lovers, and baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the imperious Prince Golaud. Ferruccio Furlanetto, as Arkel, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, as Geneviève, complete the cast.

Claude Debussy’s only finished full-length opera is a unique work. While the story’s basic format of a love triangle is familiar, almost everything else about the work is atypical. The characters rarely reveal their feelings or intentions, and the dialogue is often deliberately indirect, but the beauty of the sensuous vocal lines and the ravishing orchestral writing will appeal to anyone who is willing to listen beyond standard operatic techniques.

 

A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood: A Musical Journey in the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Sunday, January 20, 2pm

In this special from WQXR and WNYC, host Terrance McKnight interweaves musical examples with Dr. King's own speeches and sermons to illustrate the powerful place that music held in his work--and examines how the musical community responded to and participated in Dr. King's cause.

 

The Children of Children Keep Coming

Sunday, January 20, 3pm

In celebration of the life of Martin Luther King WVIA presents this unique special: Through story and song, author Russell Goings has adapted his epic poem “The Children of Children Keep Coming” into an hour-long spoken word performance that delineates and celebrates the too often unsung African-American cultural history.  His inspiration comes from friendship of iconic collagist Romare Bearden and from the voices of the ancestors.

Infused with the improvisational feel of jazz, this program celebrates the soulful spirits of ancestors through Goings’ masterfully poetic prose.  Narratives of historical figures Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass and Phillis Wheatley intertwine with mythic characters Evalina, Banjo Pete and Black Tiny Shiny to tell the important story of the African-American heroic journey. 

The host of the program is acclaimed Tony Award winning Broadway actor Brian Stokes Mitchell. “The Children of Children Keep Coming” is a production of WNPR – Connecticut Public Radio in partnership with Fairfield University.

Russell Goings graduated with honors from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959.  He briefly played professional football, and then headed to Wall Street to become the first African-American brokerage manager for a New York Stock Exchange member firm.  Later, he became the first black owner of an investment firm, which managed the assets of some of the world’s largest companies along with many legendary athletes and entertainers.  He was founder of Essence Magazine and became the chairman of the Studio Museum in Harlem.  Goings is an inductee into the Wall Street Hall of Fame.  He spent thirteen years writing the “Children”, studying under Pulitzer Prize nominee and Fairfield University poetry professor Kim Bridgford.

 

Marnie

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Saturday, January 26, 1p

Composer Nico Muhly unveils his second new opera for the Met with this gripping reimagining of Winston Graham’s novel, set in the 1950s, about a beautiful, mysterious young woman who assumes multiple identities. Director Michael Mayer and his creative team have devised a fast-moving, cinematic world for this exhilarating story of denial and deceit, which also inspired a film by Alfred Hitchcock. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the enigmatic Marnie, and baritone Christopher Maltman is the man who pursues her—with disastrous results. Robert Spano conducts.

A new work commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Marnie is a musical-dramatic vision of a troubled character within a flawed society, with both the individual and the social milieu concealing inner turbulence behind sophisticated façades. Based on a 1961 novel by Winston Graham, the libretto unfolds naturalistically, and the music explores the themes set forth in the source material in a direct and often seductively beautiful manner.

 

San Francisco Symphony

Sunday, January 27, 2p

On this mid-winter broadcast from the San Francisco Symphony we hear Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 subtitled “Winter Daydreams”. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts this concert that includes the symphonic poem Prometheus by Franz Liszt, and violinist Christian Tetzlaff plays a concerto by the modern master György Ligeti.

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