March Highlights on WVIA-FM
Saturday, March 3rd, 1pm
Anthony Minghella’s stunning production of Puccini’s heartbreaking opera, an instant Met classic since its 2006 premiere, returns with Ermonela Jaho in the tragic title role of the trusting geisha. Roberto Aronica is her callous American lover, Pinkerton, and Marco Armiliato conducts.
The title character of Madama Butterfly—a young Japanese geisha who clings to the belief that her arrangement with a visiting American naval officer is a loving and permanent marriage—is one of the defining roles in opera. The story triggers ideas about cultural and sexual imperialism for people far removed from the opera house, and film, Broadway, and popular culture in general have riffed endlessly on it. The lyric beauty of Puccini’s score, especially the music for the thoroughly believable lead role, has made Butterfly timeless.
Deutsche Welle Festival Concert: Bachfest Leipzig
Sunday, March 4th, 2pm
The annual Bachfest draws tens of thousands of Bach pilgrims every year to hear his music performed at the very locations where the composer himself was long active. This program also focuses on the musician who discovered Bach a hundred years later, Felix Mendelssohn – whose Second Symphony--The Song of Praise also premiered here at St. Thomas' Church.
Saturday, March 10th, 1pm
This masterpiece of dazzling vocal fireworks makes a rare Met appearance—its first in nearly 25 years—with Maurizio Benini on the podium. The all-star bel canto cast features Angela Meade in the title role of the murderous Queen of Babylon, who squares off in breathtaking duets with Arsace, a trouser role sung by Elizabeth DeShong. Javier Camarena, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Ryan Speedo Green complete the stellar cast.
Semiramide is the culmination of the Italian phase of Rossini’s monumental yet unusual career. He had already produced such immortal comedies as Il Barbiere di Siviglia and L’Italiana in Algeri, but in the early 19th century he was celebrated above all else for his tragedies—none more so than Semiramide. For decades after its premiere, the opera swept through the music capitals of Europe and beyond, enthralling audiences with its urgent, transcendentally beautiful use of melody; undeniably exhilarating drama; and, most importantly, astonishing vocal displays.
Deutsche Welle Festival Concert: ARD Music Competition
Sunday, March 11th, 2pm
Meet the soloists we'll all be talking about soon: winners at one of the world's major music competitions. Oboe, violin, piano and guitar were the categories in the most recent edition of the competition that sooner or later, gets around to every instrument. Stunning performances in the final concerts, where you not only hear the right notes but also the artistic personalities that shape them. Featured are movements from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, Violin Concerto No. 1 of Prokofiev, and the Oboe Concerto of Richard Strauss.
Saturday, March 17th, 1pm
Christine Goerke sings her first Elektra at the Met in Patrice Chéreau’s landmark production, a sensation at its Met premiere last spring, which the Wall Street Journal called “revolutionary … a triumph on all fronts.” Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Strauss’s shattering score, a tour de force for the singers and the orchestra alike.
Shortly after conquering the opera world with his scandalous masterpiece Salome, Richard Strauss turned to Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s recent adaptation of Sophocles’s Electra for his next project. The resulting opera is an intense and still-startling work that unites the commanding impact of Greek tragedy with the unsettling insights of early-20th-century Freudian psychology. The drama unfolds in a single act of rare vocal and orchestral power.
WVIA Simply Grand Concert-LIVE
Sunday, March 18th, 2pm
It’s a first for the Simply Grand Concert Series--a live broadcast! The concert will feature a program of improvisations by pianist Ron Stabinsky. In the spirit of his debut album, Free for One, Ron Stabinsky presents a program of solo piano improvisations in tandem with discussions on the music with Larry Vojtko. Following the live performance, selections from the album Free for One will be broadcast on WVIA.
Ron Stabinsky has been featured many times on WVIA as a classical collaborative pianist, most notably in a series of broadcasts of the complete cycle of Violin Sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven with violinist, Sophie Till. This concert reveals a completely different side of this remarkable musician’s talent.
Saturday, March 24th, 1pm
Puccini’s grand spectacle of legendary China stars Martina Serafin in the role of the ice princess and Marcelo Álvarez as the unknown prince who must thaw her heart or die. Maria Agresta, Guanqun Yu, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk are among the other remarkable artists featured in this cherished Franco Zeffirelli production, led by Marco Armiliato.
Puccini’s final opera is an epic fairy tale set in a China of legend, loosely based on a play by 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi. Featuring a most unusual score with an astounding and innovative use of chorus and orchestra, it is still recognizably Puccini, bursting with instantly appealing melody. The unenviable task of completing the opera’s final scene upon Puccini’s sudden death was left to the composer Franco Alfano. Conductor Arturo Toscanini oversaw Alfano’s contribution and led the world premiere.
Deutsche Welle Festival Concert: Le Concert Olympique
Sunday, March 25th, 2pm
For Palm Sunday a rare performance of Beethoven’s oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives. Also on this all-Beethoven program: Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout. Jan Caeyers conducts.
Ludwig van Beethoven sometimes performed and conducted in marathon concerts showcasing his own works. In 1803, Vienna's Theater an der Wien witnessed an "academy" event that conductor and Beethoven biographer Jan Caeyers re-created at the most recent Beethovenfest in Bonn. Not just the playbill, but also the sound and spirit of the orchestra Le Concert Olympique are faithful to the original. We'll hear them at the Beethovenfest in Bonn.
Così fan Tutte
Saturday, March 31st, 1pm
A winning cast comes together for Phelim McDermott’s clever vision of Mozart’s comedy about the sexes, set in a carnival-esque, funhouse environment inspired by 1950s Coney Island—complete with bearded ladies, fire eaters, and a Ferris wheel. Manipulating the action are the Don Alfonso of Christopher Maltman and the Despina of Tony Award–winner Kelli O’Hara, with Amanda Majeski, Serena Malfi, Ben Bliss, and Adam Plachetka as the pairs of young lovers who test each other’s faithfulness. David Robertson conducts.
The third and final collaboration between Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte is a fascinating paradox: a frothy comedy of manners with an intensely dark take on human nature; an old story (it has antecedents in Boccaccio, Shakespeare, and Cervantes, among others) with a startlingly modern tone; and a beautiful score depicting questionable behavior. Così fan tutte was only moderately successful at its premiere and remained just outside the standard repertoire for more than a century. Così still poses unique challenges, and correspondingly unique rewards, for the public today. Every possible impression of love—from the loftiest to the basest—is explored in this extraordinary opera.