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9 Shows to Hear this May on WVIA Radio

La Boheme

Saturday, May 6th, 1pm
La Bohème, the passionate, timeless, and indelible story of love among young artists in Paris, can stake its claim as the world’s most popular opera. It has a marvelous ability to make a powerful first impression and to reveal unsuspected treasures after dozens of hearings. At first glance, La Bohème is the definitive depiction of the joys and sorrows of love and loss; on closer inspection, it reveals the deep emotional significance hidden in the trivial things—a bonnet, an old overcoat, a chance meeting with a neighbor—that make up our everyday lives. The libretto sets the action in Paris, circa 1830. This is not a random setting, but rather reflects the issues and concerns of a particular time when, following the upheavals of revolution and war, French artists had lost their traditional support base of aristocracy and church. The story centers on self-conscious youth at odds with mainstream society—a Bohemian ambience that is clearly recognizable in any modern urban center. La Bohème captures this ethos in its earliest days.

Pittsburgh Symphony

Sunday, May 7th, 2pm
Filled with ambiguity and intrigue, Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony was written with a distinct narrative behind the music according to the composer, yet no one alive knows what this story is. Hear the piece that Tchaikovsky poured his “whole soul into,” ultimately leading to his premature death only a week after the original premiere. Also, Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Horn, William Caballero, is soloist in Knussen’s Horn Concerto, along with Prokofiev’s first film score and homage to his Soviet roots in the Suite from Lieutenant Kijé.


Saturday, May 13th, 1pm
The mighty walls and towering monuments of ancient Egypt once again fill the Met stage, as Verdi’s great spectacle returns. Sopranos Angela Meade and Leah Crocetto share the title role, a captive Ethiopian princess torn between love and country. Mezzo-soprano Olesya Petrova is Aida’s implacable Egyptian counterpart, Amneris, with tenors Brian Jagde and Marcelo Álvarez as the warrior Radamès, the object of both of their affections. Baritones George Gagnidze, Quinn Kelsey, and Luca Salsi portray Aida’s father, Amonasro, and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn is the iron-fisted priest Ramfis. Maestro Paolo Carignani conducts. This grandest of grand operas features an epic backdrop for what is in essence an intimate love story. Set in ancient Egypt and packed with magnificent choruses, complex ensembles, and elaborate ballets, Aida never loses sight of its three protagonists. Few operas have matched Aida in its exploration of the conflict of private emotion and public duty, and perhaps no other has remained to the present day so unanimously appreciated by audiences and critics alike.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Sunday, May 14th, 2pm
A magically resonant melody, a lyrically virtuosic violin, and a colorfully bold symphony all converge on this epic program. Hear the heart-wrenching beauty of Vaughan Williams’ epic masterpiece harkening back to his English Renaissance forefathers, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, alongside the long-awaited debut of violinist Alina Ibragimova with Prokofiev’s lyrical Violin Concerto No. 1. Rachmaninoff’s Third Symphony, his last, ends the concert with a work clearly paying respect to the composer’s Russian background, a beautiful conclusion to his symphony trifecta.

Don Giovanni

Saturday, May 20th, 1pm
Tony Award–winning director of Broadway’s A View from the Bridge and West Side Story, Ivo van Hove makes a major Met debut with a new take on Mozart’s tragicomedy, re-setting the familiar tale of deceit and damnation in an abstract architectural landscape and shining a light into the dark corners of the story and its characters. Maestro Nathalie Stutzmann makes her Met debut conducting a star-studded cast led by baritone Peter Mattei as a magnetic Don Giovanni, alongside the Leporello of bass-baritone Adam Plachetka. Sopranos Federica Lombardi, Ana María Martínez, and Ying Fang make a superlative trio as Giovanni’s conquests—Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Zerlina—and tenor Ben Bliss is Don Ottavio. Aided by his ingenious librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart approached his operatic retelling of the Don Juan myth from a point of view that is neither tragic nor entirely comic, but rather lighthearted, urbane, and ironic. We follow the title character and his earthy comic sidekick, Leporello, through a series of encounters that begins with a fatal duel, moves back and forth between the humorous and the sentimental, and ends with the protagonist being dragged down to hell.

Deutsche Welle

Sunday, May 21st, 2pm
Like father, like son – or so the saying goes. But how true does this hold for Johann Sebastian Bach and his son Carl Philipp Emanuel? The opening concert of the 2022 Leipzig Bach Festival presents cantatas and passions by the two composers, and while Johann Sebastian may be more famous today, Carl Philipp Emanuel was actually better known in his time. Andreas Reize, the new music director at St. Thomas Church, leads the St. Thomas boys' choir and the world-renowned Gewandhaus Orchestra in a performance that gives the audience a unique chance to hear what unites Bach father and son, but also what sets them apart. Today basically everybody has heard of Johann Sebastian Bach. But it's thought that back in the mid-18th century, his son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, was actually more famous than he was. But that doesn't mean their music didn't share any similarities.

Terence Blanchard’s Champion

Saturday, May 27th, 1pm
When Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones opened the Met’s 2021–22 season to universal acclaim, it marked a historic moment in the annals of the company. Now, the six-time Grammy Award–winning composer’s operatic retelling of the dramatic story of boxer Emile Griffith arrives in New York. Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green stars as the closeted young hatmaker-turned-prizefighter, who rises from obscurity to become world champion and, in one of the great tragedies in sports history, kills his homophobic archrival in the ring. Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a stellar cast that also features bass-baritone Eric Owens as Griffith’s older self, haunted by the ghosts of his past. Soprano Latonia Moore is Emelda Griffith, the boxer’s estranged mother, alongside mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as bar owner Kathy Hagen. Director James Robinson—whose productions of Fire and Porgy and Bess brought down the house—oversees the staging, and Camille A. Brown, whose choreography electrified audiences in Fire and Porgy, also returns. Champion was the first opera composed by Terence Blanchard—following numerous high-profile film scores and many years as a leading jazz artist—and depicts the conflicts and crises in the life of boxer Emile Griffith. When Blanchard was initially approached to write an opera, this subject emerged as the story that he felt most inspired to set to music. He saw the truly operatic dimensions in the confluence of love, violence, death, and forgiveness, and in bringing them to the stage, he wove together both contemporary and classical musical idioms to create a wholly new sound world, one that he characterizes as “opera in jazz.”

Wind & Rhythm – Memories of Heroes

Sunday, May 28th, 2pm
Many Americans celebrate their Memorial Day holiday by relaxing, spending time with family, catching up on projects, grilling out or going to the park. But some families, those with fallen military members, celebrate differently. They recognize the permanent loss of those who didn’t come home, of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, of those whom Memorial Day is designated to honor. The Heroes.

Scott Simon hosts Alan Seeger: Instrument of Destiny

Sunday, May 28th, 3pm
From the trenches of The Great War, Alan Seeger's poems, letters and diaries spring to life in the voices of Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine. Recorded just before lockdown in the Cathedral, Patrick Zimmerli's new oratorio "Alan Seeger: Instrument of Destiny" fuses Seeger's formal writing with monkish chants and 20th Century music. Scott Simon hosts this moving hour of tribute to all those who saw combat, and those who awaited them at home.

Paris-based director Mirabelle Ordinaire conceived this work and wrote the libretto, gathering from Seeger’s words a whirlwind of emotions and poignant battle scenes. She directs productions with New York’s Metropolitan Opera and, the Paris Opera, and other companies in works from Berlioz to Mozart and Stravinsky to Weill.

Cathedral Choir Conductor Kent Tritle has been called “the brightest star in New York’s choral music world” by the NY Times. He directs Cathedral Music at St. John the Divine and Musica Sacra as well as the Oratorio Society of New York. He teaches at Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School.