Tag Archives: Lucia di Lammermoor

#WordWednesday: Cadenza

CADENZA (19 Scrabble points) – Italian – A cadenza is an elaborate section (sometimes improvised) towards the end of an aria that allows the singer to really showcase what their voice can do, like the below “Flute Cadenza” in Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Interestingly enough, Donizetti never wrote such a section into his original score for Lucia. The section was added to showcase Nellie Melba’s coloratura singing during an 1889 performance at The Paris Opera. Other famous singers (Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Beverly Sills) added their own flavor when playing Lucia. Check out Diana Damrau (who will play all four heroines in our 16/17 production of Tales of Hoffmann) tackling Lucia’s entire mad scene below, including the famous cadenza.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFR9Lho1a8A

Can’t get enough Diana Damrau? Get to know Diana Damrau in the articles that follow and get in the Damrau spirit.

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Harpist of a Lifetime

“First and foremost, we are all musicians and unique individuals. I strive to encourage, guide, mentor, and prepare young harpists for success in a rapidly changing world.” – JoAnn Turovsky

A young JoAnn Turovsky and her harp

A young JoAnn Turovsky and her harp

In September, the American Harp Society honored one of its most active members – JoAnn Turovsky – with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Turovsky, who serves as the Principal Harpist in the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra (as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Sinfonia Orchestra) has spent a lifetime not only playing an instrument she loves, but also spreading her passion for the harp to students at the University of Southern California‘s Thornton School of Music and the Colburn School of Music.

Turovsky’s love of the harp started early and led to years of study and mastering of the craft. In 1972, she won the American Harp Society’s National Competition and three years later became one of the youngest board members. “Being a participant gave me an interesting perspective as an administer of the competition,” says Turovsky.

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Let’s Talk Bel Canto Baby

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVdSSWB5-Nk

Lucia di Lammermoor. The Elixir of Love. Norma. What’s one major thing these masterpiece operas have in common? They are all part of the “bel canto” tradition of early 19th-century Italian opera. “Bel canto” directly translates into “beautiful singing,” but the movement is so much more than the beautiful arias that define it.

Norma; Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Norma; Photo: Ken Howard

The titans of bel canto – Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and Gioachino Rossini – composed music that requires performers to have a number of vocal skills at their command: full, rich and even vocal tone; smooth, fluid musical phrasing; and tremendous vocal agility (the ability to sing a lot of fast-moving notes in a single phrase). These abilities come more naturally to some singers than to others, but even for those gifted singers who were born for bel canto, it still takes a lot of hard work in the rehearsal room to make it sound effortless. The words we use to describe bel canto may sound like gibberish if you don’t study voice, but I can promise you that the difference is quite clear. Check out Maria Callas performing “Casta diva” from Norma below and then contrast it with a non-bel canto piece: Birgit Nilsson singing “Allein, weh ganz, allein” (an early 20th-century German aria with vastly different vocal challenges) from Richard Strauss’s Elektra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aFaEkvwO2w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsNAWbslCGo

Still hungry for more information on bel canto? We’ve collected some great reference material to give you a taste of the bel canto movement below, including our top 5 bel canto operas to know.

Bel Canto: Audiences Love It, but What Is It? – via The New York Times

New York Times Chief Music Critic Anthony Tommasini discusses the history of the bel canto we know and love.

Talk Like an Opera Geek: Savoring The Bel Canto Sound – via NPR Music

It’s easy for opera fans to toss around the term “bel canto.” It’s much harder to actually define it. Literally, bel canto means “beautiful singing” in Italian, but it’s so open-ended that it’s come to mean anything from the lyrical trend in Roman cantatas from the 1640s to any particularly lovely snippet of vocalizing from any era. And then there’s the inverse of bel canto — “can belto” — a handy put-down to be flung at any singer who just stands and barks.

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#LAO30Images: Halloween Edition

Albina Shagimuratova as the title character in Lucia di Lammermoor (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

“There on the fountain’s edge, the shadow appeared to me. I could see her lips moving as if speaking and with her lifeless hand she seemed to call me. For a moment she stood there motionless, then she vanished all at once, and the water, earlier so limpid, had grown red, as if with blood.” – Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor

With these words, Lucia shows the world her thin grip of reality, showcasing her slip into madness later on in Donizetti’s tragic Lucia di Lammermoor. Opera is filled with such haunting moments and characters, some that are so powerful, they are difficult to forget like the above Lucia scene, or others that are truly terrifying, such as the characters in Howard Shore’s The Fly (2008).

To celebrate Halloween during our 30th Anniversary Season, we have selected 30 haunting LA Opera images. Below are images from three productions that horror junkies should know about. Other images in this series have been uploaded to our #LAO30Images: Halloween Edition Pinterest Gallery.

The Fly

“The time had come for me to attach myself to a new form.” – Composer Howard Shore on his score for The Fly

LA Opera presented the U.S. premiere of The Fly in 2008. Based on David Cronenberg’s 1986 cult horror classic, The Fly follows the story of an eccentric scientist, who while working on a teleportation device, accidentally fuses his DNA with that of a fly’s. As a result, he slowly turns into a fly, terrifying those he loves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvJPZM2hvjY

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