Upcoming and Noteworthy

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

Photo by Joan Marcus

The new Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" stars Annette Bening and Tracy Letts. Hear Theater Critic Howard Shapiro's review of the production at the American Airlines Theatre this week Friday (5/24) at 8 am and Saturday (5/25) at 10 am.

On Friday's Noon Concert (5-24) from Concerts on the Slope in Brooklyn  we'll hear a Wind Quintet in Summer Winds by Aaron Copland.  Also on the program are pieces by Maurice Ravel, John Harbison, Isang Yun and Reena Ismail.

Picture Perfect: May 24 - The Civil War

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day has its roots in Decoration Day, a time to honor those who gave “the last full measure of their devotion” during the War Between the States.  We acknowledge the heroism and sacrifice of ordinary Americans placed in extraordinary circumstances, with music from “Gettysburg” (Randy Edelman), “Gone with the Wind” (Max Steiner), Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” (Jay Ungar), and “Glory” (James Horner).  A house divided against itself cannot stand.  Preserve the union of history and entertainment, this Friday at 6 pm.

Anonymous 4 refers to 14th century Florentine composer Francesco Landini as the "Italin master of subtle refinement", and on Friday's Distant Mirror you can hear them perform several of Landini's love songs from their cd The Second Circle. Also on the program, Julian Bream plays some Elizabethan and Jacobean lute music, and we'll conclude with 16th century French dances with the King's Noyse, featuring soprano Ellen Hargis. Join Allan Kelly at 10pm.

The poetry of Walt Whitman lends itself well to musical settings, and as the Bicentennial of the great American poet on May 31 approaches, the list of tributes and celebrations includes a number of musical programs and concerts. Among those is a May 31 performance in New York by The Dessoff Choirs, which will feature premieres of settings of his works by Matthew Aucoin, Eve Beglarian and Ian Sturges Milliken. This Saturday on A Tempo (5/25 at 7 pm), host Rachel Katz will speak with The Dessoff Choirs Music Director Malcolm J. Merriweather about this tribute.

The Princeton Festival returns to The Classical Network this Sunday (5/26 at 3 pm) with a production of Puccini's romantic masterpiece Madama Butterfly. Soprano Yulio Lysenko will sing Cio-Cio San and Lt. B.F. Pinkerton will be sung by tenor Matthew White. Other cast members including mezzo-soprano Janara Kellerman as Suzuki, tenor anthony Webb as Goro the marriage broker, baritone Paul La Rose as Consul Sharpless and bass Wei Wu will be the Bonze.

June 1st will be the 96th anniversary of the birth of Marilyn Monroe, and we’ll be remembering her on this week’s Dress Circle (5/26 7:00 p.m.).  Although she only appeared in 33 films over the course of 15 years until her untimely death 57 years ago, she is arguably still one of the most recognizable people around the world.  Much has been made of her problems and failings, but we just want to remember her performances that were uniquely “Marilyn.”  

Giuditta is an attempt by Franz Lehar to finally write an opera, to break out of the mold of being only a composer of operetta. Some critics  think he succeeded, 

The Lost Chord: May 26 - Joy, Shipmate, Joy!

May 23, 2019

May 31st marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Walt Whitman.  Whitman’s verse inspired literally hundreds of musical responses.  On this final program in a four-part series encompassing ten composers, celebrate America’s national poet with two openhearted and ecstatic works for chorus and orchestra by Howard Hanson and Lowell Liebermann.   The ship is clear at last, she leaps!   Happiness… not for another hour… but this Sunday at 10 pm.

Sunday evening (5-26) at 11 on Half Past we'll hear selections from the operas Desire Under the Elms by Edward Thomas, Gimpel the Fool by David Schiff, and The Greater Good by Stephen Hartke.  Music composed in the past half-century on Half Past.

At noon on Wednesday, 5-22 we'll hear Henri Vieuxtemps' Viola Sonata, Loop by Gyorgy Ligeti and the Viola Sonata by Rebecca Clarke.  Performances from student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music, Wednesdays at noon and Monday evenings at 10.

We love reminding everyone about some of the great performers who we feel are being forgotten, and on this week’s Dress Circle (5/19 7:00 p.m.), we’ll be doing just that as we shine a spotlight on leading man Howard Keel.  Many people only remember him as Clayton Farlow on “Dallas,” but for those of us who love musicals have loved him in films like “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Kismet,” “Calamity Jane,” “Kiss Me Kate,” and “Annie Get Your Gun” as well as his stage appearances in shows like “Saratoga” and the London cast of “Oklahoma!”   

The Lost Chord: May 19 - Lilacs Last

May 16, 2019

May 31st marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Walt Whitman.  We celebrate this most influential of American poets all month long with music inspired by his verse, from an array of international composers.  Tune in this week for two works indebted to “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” – the Symphony No. 1, “Versuch eines Requiems,” by Karl Amadeus Hartmann and “Dooryard Bloom,” for baritone and orchestra, by Jennifer Higdon.  Whitman chants his song of “sane and sacred death,” this Sunday at 10 pm.

Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli and Renata Scotto head the cast in highlights from Puccini's Turandot this Sunday night at 8PM on the Lyric Stage. This raises the burning isssue of whether to pronounce Puccini's final opera with the t at the end or not. Such is the nature of opera lovers, who are among the most opinionated people on earth. Final opinions on the subject favor both pronunciations. Most scholars and the original Turandot, Rosa Raisa, agree that Puccini pronounced it without the t sound. So what? says the opposite camp.

On Sunday evening (5-19) at 11 we'll hear Changes (sextet for winds & piano) by Marcelo Zarvos, Winter Music by Alexina Louie, the Second Hungarian Gyspy Romance by Edmond Agopian and William Bolcom's Violin Sonata No. 4.  Music composed in the past half-century on Half Past. 

Wednesday (5/15) at noon on Curtis Calls we present Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata, Grieg's Sonata No. 3 in C minor and Navarra by Pablo de Sarasate.  Performances from student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music, Wednesdays at noon and Monday evenings at 10.

We’ll be enjoying another forgotten opera on this week’s Sunday Opera (5/12 3:00 p.m.) as we look at one of twenty pieces by Austrian composer Wilhelm Kienzl, “Der Evangelimann.”  Premiering in March of 1892, it has become his most famous opera although it never reached the financial success of his “Don Quixote.”  The story, which was adapted into a silent film in 1924, is by Kienzl and looks at the life of a school teacher named Johannes who is falsely accused of setting a fire in the local monastery by his jealous brother, who has fallen in love with and has been rebuked by Johannes’ love, Martha.  

Nothing really changes, and to prove that on this week’s Dress Circle (5/12 7:00 p.m.) we’re presenting a program we’ve titled, “Me!  Me!  Me! Ego Songs from the Musicals.”  

There are many versions of the Faust legend, and we’ll sample one on this week’s Sunday Opera (5/5 3:00 p.m.) from Ferruccio Busoni for which he also wrote the libretto.  Unfinished at the time of his death, it was completed by Busoni’s pupil Philipp Jarnach and then again in 1982 by Anthony Beaumont from recently discovered sketches by Busoni.  This Faust is more about love than he is power or wealth, and after an off-stage seduction of Gretchen, he suggests to Mefistofeles that her soldier brother should be killed.  He also seduces and runs away with a duchess whom he abandons, but she eventually returns as a homeless beggar with their dead child, and with a final act of good, Faust brings the baby back to life as a young man as he descends into hell.  

It’s always interesting to see how different composers treat the same source material, and we’ll see an example of this on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/28 3:00 p.m.) with a recording of Alfredo Catalani’s “Dejanice” which premiered in 1883.   The libretto by Angelo Zanardini based on a novel by Victor Hugo, “Angelo, the Tyrant of Padua” as is Amilcare Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda.”  Here, it’s set in Ancient Greece with Dejanice who was once a patrician but is now a high-class prostitute who is in love with a Tuscan adventurer named Admeto who is, in turn, in love with Argelia against her father’s wishes.  As in all good operas, a love triangle can only end in tragedy for someone.  

It’s a showcase of the work of Pavel Haas on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/21 3:00 p.m.) as we look at his only opera, written in 1936, “Sarlatan.”  Haas was one of the Czech-Jewish composers to be used by the Nazis as part of their propaganda display at Terezin (Theresienstadt concentration camp) for the Red Cross.  Haas was killed on October 17, 1944 at the age of 45 when he drew attention to himself, saving conductor Karel Ancerl when they were sent to Auschwitz immediately after the Red Cross’ visit.

A Basque opera?  We’ll have one on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/14 3:00 p.m.) as we turn to Jesus Guridi’s “Amaya.”  Guridi (1886 – 1961) played an important role as a Spanish / Basque composer who wrote operas and zarzuelas as well as orchestral, piano, choral, and organ works.  “Amaya” deals with several conflicts on which hangs the future of the Basque people in the 8th century.  Christianity is threatening the old religion, the Moors are invading Spain, and Amaya has to choose between the love of a Christian invader and that of a long-time Basque admirer.  She does, with tragic consequences.  

Wednesday 4-10 at noon on Curtis Calls we'll hear violinist Christine Lim and pianist Xiaohui Yang in Clara Schumann's Three Romances, op. 22, Robert Schumann's Sonata No. 1 and Beethoven's Sonata No. 7, op. 30, no. 2.  Performances from student recitals at the Curtis Institute, Wednesdays at noon and Monday evenings at 10.

We’ll be celebrating another forgotten opera on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/7 3:00 p.m.) as we look at the Hermann Goetz treatment of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” entitled “Widerspenstigen Zahmung.”  Goetz spent the early part of his short life as a pianist, conductor, and music critic, only concentrating on composing as the effects of the tuberculosis that would kill him at age 35 increased, so it’s doubly sad that this delightful opera has all but disappeared.  

Somehow, Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo had a son, and he’s the central figure in this week’s Sunday Opera (3/31 3:00 p.m.) in Nancy Van De Vate’s “Nemo Beyond Vulcania.”  With a libretto by Van De Vate and Alan Cortes, the story uses Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” as a starting point where Nemo’s grown son is torn between his loyalty to his father’s ideals of living in a world of men to do good works or to share his life with a woman.  The cast includes Zoltan Korda, Marek Oldbrzmek, Adriana Hlavsova, Andrea Kotulanova, Jiri Klecker, and Tomas Badura.  Toshiuki Shimada conducts the Ars Brunensis Chorus and the Moravian Philharmonic.  

Frederick Delius wrote Margot La Rouge in 1902 to enter into the same one acgt opera competition that had honored Cavallaria Rusitcana in 1890. The rules said the libretto must be of "the French and Italian type" , and even though Delius is said to have hated  verismo, he gave it a try, choosing what his friend and champion Eric Fenby disdained as a "sordid affair" to set to music.

We’re going to the United Kingdom for this week’s Sunday Opera (3/24 3:00 p.m.) with two operas about plucky young ladies.  First will be Ireland’s Michael William Balfe’s charming “Bohemian Girl” which deals with a stolen child raised by gypsies who falls in love with an exiled Polish nobleman, and it all comes out right in the third act.   The cast includes Nora Thomas, Patrick Power, Jonathan Summers, Bernadette Cullen, and John del Carlo with Richard Bonynge leading the Irish Radio and Television Philharmonic Choir and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.  

Frederick Delius wrote Margot La Rouge in 1902 to enter into the same one act opera competition won by Cavallaria Rusticana in 1890. The rules said the libretto must be of "the French and Italian type", and even though Delius is said to have hated  verismo, he gave it a try, choosing what his friend and champion Eric Fenby disdained as a "sordid affair" to set to music.

We’ll turn to a classic recording of a much loved opera on this week’s Sunday Opera (3/17 3:00 p.m.) and a 1958 recording of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” featuring a stellar cast that truly doesn’t get enough air play today.  Minnie, the “girl” of the title, is Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco is the bandit-in-disguise Dick Johnson (a.k.a. Ramerez) with whom she falls in love much to the consternation of Sherriff Jack Rance sung by Cornell MacNeil, and she saves Ramerez’s life by cheating at poker to “win” him. 

Candide on the Lyric Stage Sunday at 8

Mar 14, 2019

This week on the LS we  feature the original 1956 production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide based on Voltaire's 18th century novella which attacks the 18th c. philosophy of optimism. Many versions of Candide exist, but this is music from the first version, with a cast that features Barbara Cook as Cuneghonde and Robert Rounseville as Candide.