Upcoming and Noteworthy

What's ahead on The Classical Network? Catch some of these great programs coming your way.

We’ll be off to Spain and tilting at windmills on this week’s Sunday Opera (9/15 3:00 p.m.) with Jules Massenet’s “Don Quichotte” from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Ferruccio Furlanetto is the fabled knight of the “Woeful Countenance” and Clementine Margaine his Dulcinee.  Along for the ride will be Nicola Alaimo as the faithful Sancho.  Sir Andrew Davies conducts the Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra.  Join host Michael Kownacky for an afternoon that will continue with more music of Massenet including his short two-act opera “Therese” featuring Agnes Baltsa and Francisco Araiza.  

We’re going to be showcasing something we think that’s missing in many places on this week’s Dress Circle (9/15 7:00 p.m.): heart.  Our songs with heart come from shows including “Chess,” “Carnival,” “On Your Toes,” “Damn Yankees,” “The New Starlight Express,” and “Tarzan” as well as others including “The Land of Smiles,” “Inside U.S.A.”, “Spring Is Here,” and “Leave It to Me.”   We’ll look at hopeful hearts, stalwart hearts, broken hearts, and giddy hearts, but with everything said and done, we still “gotta have” it.

  As a teenager, Teresa Stratas sang pop songs, but did not study music formally until she saw her first staged opera performance in 1954 when she was 16, La Traviata. That was it, she knew what she wanted, to sing like that. Without ever having a voice lesson, she auditioned for the Royal College of music in her home town of Toronto, with Jerome Kern's "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", the closest thing to a classical piece she knew. But the school saw potential, and gave her a scholarship.

The Lost Chord: September 15 – Casals’ Pals

Sep 12, 2019

Pablo Casals was a giant-of-an-artist and of a man. He stood up to the Franco regime and refused to perform in countries that recognized Franco’s authority. He rediscovered the Bach cello suites. He played for both Queen Victoria and John F. Kennedy.  He founded the Prades Festival.  He established the Puerto Rico Symphony and Conservatory.  He gave master classes, conducted and recorded at Marlboro.

Sunday evening, 9/15 at 11 on Half Past we'll hear Four Prayers by Ned Rorem, Threnody for orchestra by Jack Gallagher, Postcard Partita by Carson Cooman & Theo Loevendie's Music for Flute & Piano.  Music from the past half-century on Half Past.

Wednesday, 9-11 at noon on Curtis Calls we'll hear students from the Curtis Institute of Music in Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-flat and Johannes Brahms' Trio in A minor, op. 114 for piano, violin & cello.  Performances from student recitals at the Curtis Institute, Wednesdays at noon and Monday evenings at 10.

The late Uruguayan-born pianist Dinorah Varsi (1939-2013) would have turned eighty this year, and to celebrate this milestone, the Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler devotes this week’s episode of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Virgil Thomson Award winning program Between the Keys to Varsi’s artistry, with special guest Alberto Reyes, a fellow Uruguayan-born pianist who was Varsi’s lifelong colleague and friend.

Everything that makes grand opera grand – passion, lies, betrayal, madness, murder, and suicide – are on tap for this week’s Sunday Opera (9/8 3:00 p.m.) in Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.   Lucia and Edgardo are from two feuding families in 17th century Scotland, but they are in love.  This love is thwarted by Lucia’s brother Enrico who lies to her that Edgardo has been unfaithful so that she will marry another to benefit him, and the tragic events are set in action.   You’ll hear Albina Shagimuratova as Lucia, Piotr Beczala as Edgardo, and Quinn Kelsey as Enrico with Enrique Mazzola leading the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus.  

We have two contrasting Stravinsky one acts this week on The Lyric Stage. Igor Stravinsky was 40 and living in Paris when he composed his one act opera buffa Mavra, at the beginning of his "neo-classical" period. Boris Kochna wrote the libtretto based on a Pushkin short story. The dedication on the score is to Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky.

The Lost Chord: September 8 - Italian Dressing

Sep 5, 2019

As a performer, Domenico Scarlatti once outclassed none other than George Frideric Handel in a musical duel at the harpsichord.  In fact, Scarlatti’s unusual facility on the instrument has had artists “keyed up” for centuries.  Charles Avison, Norman Dello Joio, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Alfredo Casella all interact with the legacy of this nimble-fingered master, Sunday at 10 pm.

Sunday (9-8) evening at 11 on Half Past we'll hear the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra in Sinfonia-Sinfonitta by Kurt Schwertsik and Richard Stolzman joins the London Symphony Orchestra for John Corigliano's Clarinet Concerto.

Wednesday, 9/4 at noon on Curtis Calls we present students from the Curtis Institute of Music in Lost in the Stars by Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson, and music for violin and piano by Bach, Beethoven & Bartok.  You can also hear the program Monday evening at 10.

“It’s one of those weeks where I’m too lazy to think of a subject for this week’s episode of Between the Keys,” says the Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler, “but I think I’ve got a pretty inspired play list. At least it’s unusual!”

Tune in this Tuesday night at 10 for Between the Keys to hear pianists like Roman Rabinovich, Mary Louise Boehm, Wilhelm Backhaus, Jeffrey Biegel, Konstantin Scherbakov, Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky, and more.

Mozart’s fantastic romp “The Magic Flute” from the Lyric Opera of Chicago is this week’s offering on The Sunday Opera (9/1 3:00 p.m.).  Prince Tamino is charged with passing a series of tests to win the hand of Princess Pamina whose mother just happens to be the wicked Queen of the Night whose well-known aria in which she condemns her daughter to painful death unless Pamina kills the Queen’s wizard rival Sarastro is consistently used to try to sell cars for some reason.  With the help of the bumbling “bird man” Papageno, Tamino wins his love and the Queen and her minions are defeated!  

In his one act comic opera, Gianni Schicci, the third of his set of one acts, Il Trittico, Giacomo Puccini was inspired by a serious story from Dante's Inferno about the true swindling of the Donati family by the real Gianni Schicci. Using this solemn source, Puccini created one of the finest of comic operas, turning the events into the triumph of a loveable rascal.

It may be the First of September, but there’s still time for one last summer road trip.  Climb aboard for “Flivver Ten Million” by Frederick Shepherd Converse, “Road Movies” by John Adams, “Filling Station” by Virgil Thomson, and “Route 66” by Michael Daugherty.  We’ll put the pedal to the metal as American composers hit the road for Labor Day, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Sunday evening (9-1) on Half Past we'll hear Malcolm Williamson's Requiem for a Tribe Brother, two short pieces by Stephen Jaffe and Caprichos No. 2 by Leonardo Balada.  Music composed in the past half-century on Half Past.

This week’s Sunday Opera (8/25 3:00 p.m.) travels back to ancient Gaul for a tale of forbidden love and betrayal in Vincenzo Bellini’s “Norma” from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  In it, the Druid priestess Norma has fallen in love with the pro-counsel of the invading Roman forces, Pollione, and against the law, has had two children with him.  When Pollione abandons Norma for one of her attending priestesses, Adalgisa, it sets in motion the tragedy which ends in death for Norma and Pollione in the sacrificial flames. 

Henry Purcell wrote his short one act opera Dido and Aeneas in the late 1680's. Nahum Tate wrote the libretto for this, one of the first English operas. The first known performance was at a girl's school in London in 1688, probably with students and some imported male singers in the cast. The musical provenance is somewhat murky.

The Lost Chord: August 25 - Flight of Fancy

Aug 22, 2019

On Leonard Bernstein’s birthday, tune in for one of two recordings he conducted of Marc Blitzstein’s “Airborne Symphony.”  Blitzstein began the piece while serving in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.  The work traces the evolution of flight from its conception in theory to its use in modern warfare.  

Take flight with Bernstein and Blitzstein, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Sunday evening at 11 on Half Past we'll hear Krysztof Perderecki's Largo for Cello & Orchestra, O Magnum Mysterium by Bryan Johanson and Valley of Dying Stars for string quartet by Matthew Malsky.  Music composer in the past half-century on Half Past.

It’s an afternoon of classical invaders on this week’s Sunday Opera (8/18 3:00 p.m.) that begins with Verdi’s “Attila” from La Scala in Milan featuring Ildar Adbrazakov in the title role and Saioa Hernandez as Odabella.  Riccardo Chailly conducts a cast that also in cludes George Petean, Fabio Sartori, Francesco Pittari, and Gianluco Bratto.  After the opera, join Michael Kownacky for other invasions including Shostakovich’s 7th or “Leningrad” Symphony, Janacek’s Taras Bulba Rhapsody, and a bit of Poledouris’ score for “Conan the Barabarian.”

Jacques Halevy's La Juive premiered in Paris 1835. It's a sprawling opera in five acts with huge choruses, ballets, and scenic effects all set against the backdrop of the Council of Constance in 1414 - every thing the French opera public would want. It was popular for the century after its premiere, and it was the last opera Caruso added to his repertoire before his death in 1921. While not in the main repertoire today, in the last 20 years the Metropolitan and other companies around the world have revived it.

The Lost Chord: August 18 - Healing by Nature

Aug 15, 2019

Josef Suk’s 30th year was a tragic one, marked by the deaths of both his young wife, Otilie, and his former teacher, her father, Antonín Dvořák.  Not surprisingly, a sense of morbidity colors much of his mature output.  The double-loss directly inspired Suk’s “Asrael Symphony” (named for the Angel of Death).  The next step in his emotional rehabilitation was “A Summer’s Tale.”  The composer seeks “a soothing balm in nature,” this Sunday at 10 pm.

Sunday evening at 11 on Half Past we'll hear Symphony No. 3 by John Harbison, Grand Bamboula by Charles Wuorinen and Aldophus Hailstork's Symphony No. 1.  Music composed in the past half-century on Half Past.

Sunday evening, 8-18 at 11 we'll hear the Lark Quartet with Gary Graffman on piano in Jennifer Higdon's Scenes from the Poet's Dreams along with Joan Tower's Rising and For those We Loved for orchestra by Leo Kraft.  Music composed in the past half century on Half Past.

Join us as we jet off to Rome for this week’s Sunday Opera (8/11 3:00 p.m.) and the Teatro dell’Opera’s production of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” featuring Carlo Vistoli and Mariangela Sicilia as the doomed lovers and Emoke Barath as Amore with Gianluca Capuano leading the chorus and orchestra of the Rome Opera.  After the opera, join Michael Kownacky for more music based on the Orpheus legend with Jacques Offenbach’s wonderful send-up, “Orpheus in the Underworld,” in its only complete English translation by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.  

The Lost Chord: August 11 - August Hanson

Aug 8, 2019

For many people, the prospect of having to work through vacation could be a real drag; but for the creative artist, getting away can provide an opportunity to really get things done.  Tune in to enjoy three pieces associated with Howard Hanson’s summer home on Bold Island, Maine: his “Summer Seascape No. 2,” the Symphony No. 6, and “The Bold Island Suite.”  The North Atlantic inspires some august music, this Sunday at 10 pm.

This week, we feature the German Tenor Fritz Wunderlich. His name calls up contrasting emotions - deep gratitude for all of his more than 100 recordings and the continued pleasure they give us, and inescapable sadness that he died so suddenly from a fall in 1966 at age 36.  

We’ll begin a series of European opera productions brought to us through RAI, Italian National Public Broadcasting, and the first opera comes to us from Foggia and the Rossini Opera Festival on this week’s Sunday Opera (8/4 3:00 p.m.).  “Adina” is a somewhat forgotten 1826 “farsa” that looks to the same source material for “The Abduction from the Seraglio” for its story about a lost daughter, Adina, who is recognized by her father, the Calaph, just before she is to be put to death for trying to run away with the man she loves.