Semiramide Challenge Days #7 #8 #9 and a love letter to American Rossini soprano Lella Cuberli

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Semiramide Challenge Days #7 #8 #9 and a love letter to American Rossini soprano Lella Cuberli

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American soprano and Rossini interpreter extraordinaire Lella Cuberli as Semiramide

 

I must confess I did not crack the score on days #7 and #8. Today on day #9, I continued to work on the second act aria for Arsace “In si barbara”, and can now sing thru it although not all sections at high speed. In terms of cadenzas for the repeats, I let the ornaments “come” organically. As I start learning the runs and notes and become familiar with the emotions of the character, my brain automatically generates the ornaments; already some of the flourishes have started to  come out by themselves, although I’m not currently writing them down. I read over the runs that are in the Ricci book that are indicated for “In si barbara” by the mezzo Marchisio sister, but they seem dated and or old fashioned, and are not attractive to me.

In general the tessitura is low, the same as my speaking voice almost; its a true “contraltina” aria.  In Rossini’s time it would of been perhaps a quarter of tone lower due to the diapason levels of the time.

I am now listening to the French mezzo soprano Martine Dupuy and Texan born soprano Lella Cuberli’s  second act duet “Ebben, ferisci” that is on YouTube dated 1990 (Paris). Dupuy is higher voiced mezzo, more mellow, perhaps not as incisive or as “macho” as Marilyn Horne, although I love her musicality and expression;  the cavatina section of the duet I must say is extremely musical and in sync; the trills and mesa di voces they do together are astonishingly beautiful.

My plan for the rest of the week is for me to review what I have learned up until now, and finally start vocalizing “Ebben, feresci”; its a beast of a duet and is theatrically at a fevered pitch, as the gloves come off when they arrive at the knowledge of the Oedipal situation, as well as the fact that Semiramide helped kill her husband (Arsace’s father).  The duet reads like some sort of controlled but divinely sounding hysteria, which comes off energy wise as feeling of riding tightly reined in wild  horses…

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So few years back I bought on a lark a solo CD of Rossini arias with orchestra of Lella Cuberli. I loved it so much that the CD jacket promptly fell apart. I couldn’t get enough of it, especially her Matilde di Shabran rondeau . This CD is now worth almost $80 on Amazon! it doesn’t seem to be available. Here is the clip from said disc on YouTube:

Ms. Cuberli is one of my all time favorite Rossini interpreters; it is astonishing that there is no commercial disc that documents her portrayal of Semiramide. We are lucky though to have numerous live performances that her fans have posted on YouTube for us to enjoy and learn from.  I bought on Ebay practically new LP of her Tancredi, which come to think of it, I will take out tomorrow and give it a listen.

 

 

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Starting Arsace’s rondeau “In si barbara” Days #5 – #6 of Semiramide Challenge 2017

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Starting Arsace’s rondeau “In si barbara” Days #5 – #6 of Semiramide Challenge 2017

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Yesterday was a kind of a nitty gritty day: coloratura learning is a lonely task, its just your butt at that piano, playing harmonies and learning scales. Unlike some of the thru composed music of later decades, hearing your coloratura passages in your head and understanding the scale is super important, but it goes hand in hand with singing those scales and intricate patterns over and over; and then when you really know it (even before) it needs to have emotion or meaning behind it.

I had a inward “gulp” moment (like oh my gosh what did I get myself into) a few days ago when I saw this amazing video of Marilyn Horne singing
“In si barbara” in a concert in Versailles, dated 1985. Its a filn shot as if it were a concert being viewed by Rossini himself, a fabulous fantasy costumed production, check it out:

So I searched on youtube with the words “In si barbara” and Rossini, and this is the only thing that came up. No excerpts of this being done as a solo piece, concert piece, etc… from what I have seen, this is probably the version by which this aria can really be measured;  she is hands down amazing; this clip my friends is definitely awe inspiring.

I started yesterday vocalizing the cavatina of this piece super slowly, as well as tackling the bridge section (a pre cabaletta with triplet figures), which happens before the real fireworks begin. The cabaletta has a male chorus like so many of these Rossini rondeaus, where there is sword waving, egging on and general great fun. The scales are not overly hard, but doing them at great speed could be difficult. I’m not there yet with it.  Since I want to sing it as a concert piece this fall, I discovered that the old Max Spicker Alto and Soprano aria book (edited by Pattelsons in NYC in the 1980’s, and which seems to be out of print) conveniently has this very same rondeau with the male chorus written out and ready for a solo concert with the pianist! I photocopied it today…

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I will be checking out Jennifer Laramore’s recorded version of this aria this week without fail and see what she does, her ornamentation choices as well as tempos. For now I’m plugging away at this aria slowly but surely. Today (day #6), I did not sit at the piano, but I did review and look at the score during a long subway ride to Brooklyn; I’ve gone thru and can hear in my head the first act, including the recitatives (minus the quintet). I will now chip away at the second act, as I come into my second week of the Semiramide challenge 2017.  I still have the second act duet with the soprano to contend with.  I already have a coaching set up on August 9th and August 11th.

Found this neat “deco” orientalist painting of our favorite sultry and “evil like” sex kitten. If I was to update this opera to the present, it would have to be to one of those 1980’s night time soap operas, like Falcon Crest or Dynasty. Joan Collins would of made a fabulous Queen Semiramide in my opinion…

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Semiramide Challenge 2017 Day #4, recitative before “Serbami ognor”, interesting…

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Semiramide Challenge 2017 Day #4, recitative before “Serbami ognor”, interesting…

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Rossini leaves no stone unturned in Semiramide in terms of human interaction, emotional states; shades of unspoken are throughout the score.  The recitatives that I have sung thru so far are all studied little gems of characterization and theater. I have never participated or studied his opera seria from Rossini’s Neopolitan years and I’m seriously stunned now that I’m examining Semiramide; These have nothing to do with Barbiere, Cenerentola or Italiana in Algeri. They have the same degree of psychological depth of recitatives by Handel, Mozart and Verdi. I will need to conjure a real theatrical accent and would have to have a pretty great and accomplished conductor that can truly accompany and bring these recits to life.

I have sung  the first act duet between Arsace and Semiramide “Serbami ognor” a few times in concerts these past two years, but had never bothered to look at the recitative that precedes this duet. Semiramide (in the book “History thru the Opera Glass” by George Jellinek, the author cites that tradition has it she was the creator of the famous Babylonian Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world) is a character I’m still trying to figure out; what is certain is that she is an anti heroine: complicated, sexy, very feminine, capable of murder and with a thirst for power, but also vulnerable (she allows herself to fall in love) she becomes remorseful and  horrified at the Oedipeal situation she finds herself in when we get to the second act. Can I say she is an evil sex kitten with a heart? Arsace can’t bring himself to kill her when he reveals that he is her son.  There must of been something redeemable about her… I need to keep taking myself thru this libretto a bit more, as well as Rossini’s musicalization to figure it out.

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Amazing cat suit outfit for Semiramide

Today I took myself thru this interesting recitative between Arsace and Semiramide “Mitrane, e che rechi?” right before duet No. 8; I read it first at the piano and saw what seemed to be quirky almost awkward sudden changes in harmony, but within a framework of very sparse notes (“la più bella speranza lusingava il mio cor, ma…). But in reading the translation, Rossini perfectly emulates the misunderstanding as well as  word ques that erroneosly “get lost in translation” between the two characters; she has just received the missive from the oracle saying that all will be righted in the kingdom when Arsace marries (she assumes she is the bride alluded by the oracle); Arsace has come to ask for Azema’s hand in marriage and misunderstands that the Queen is open to agreeing to this marriage. I need to add that both Semiramide and Arsace each have a letter reading scene with underneath orchestral tremolos. Rossini used every device in the book to wring out every ounce of drama, to what I consider thrilling results.

Arsace’s statements and responses need to be sung with a lot of intention, as well as with a touche of naivete. He is truly an honest young man, and very much in earnest, but is  a little clueless and doesn’t have an instinct for subterfuge.   Some of the lines are filled with pride, then suddenly changes to hope, anxiety, and love; he opens his heart to Semiramide in this scene, and she mistakes his intentions…this section needs to come off very natural.  Since its accompanied by the orchestra, it is super rigorous at the same time…so, not really easy to pull off.  This recit section has lots of interesting stuff. It of course preludes one of the better known duets from the opera. I already started scribbling the different attitudes and emotional content of Arsace’s lines in this section. Actually, Rossini in his harmonies tells me what Arsace is feeling; its all there on the page.

Arsace – You summoned me, Queen, and I have hastened to come. How I have yearned for this sweet moment! The finest of hopes enticed my heart. But…

Semiramide – (sweetly) Why do you stop?

Arsace – I am told that, generous as you are, you have at last granted Assyria its wish, that today you will name a successor…

Semiramide – Go on.

Arsace – Assur, the haughty man, thinks he will be king, Azema’s hand will earn him a throne. I would die for you, but I will not serve him.

Semiramide – He shall not have Azema.

Arsace – (joyfully) He won’t?

Semiramide – I am aware of his plans.

Arsace – Ah! Then you know him?

Semiramide – And I will punish him.

Arsace – (reticently) If only you knew this well also Arsace’s heart!

Semiramide – (tenderly) I know that it is faithful and virtuous.

Arsace – But I am only a warrior…

Semiramide – And a warrior, for this empire, is the greatest support… and you… are already… (to herself) Patience, my heart.

(Libretto from the recording conducted by Alberto Zedda, edited by Dynamic CD’s)

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Semiramide 30 day Challenge Day 3 Arsace Assur duet “Bella imago…”

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I have not sung many opera scenes with true basses.  The last I did that comes to memory is the duet between Laura and Alvise in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda.  There are more common encounters in baroque opera between these two voice types, as well as also in a couple of Bach cantatas that I have sung.  There are occasions in which the mezzo interacts with the bass in recitative passages, but not often in large presentational duet like the one in Semiramide.

The scene with Arsace and Assur in Act I of Semiramide begins with Arsace’s recit  “…e questo Assur chi’io già detesto”.  It would be a mistake to sum this scene as a big testosterone sable rattling scene. Its divided in four sections sections, and contains  bridge section to mirror the power struggle and conflict (with what I call “emotional close ups”) between the two characters: a young dashing somewhat lovelorn general and a mature general that has been working many years to attain absolute power in ancient Babylon.

American bass Samuel Ramey as Assur in Rossini’s Semiramide

No. 5 Scena and duetto Arsace and Assur

Recitative “…e questo Assur chio gia detesto” “E dunque vero? audace”

Maestoso allegretto giusto: “Bella imago degli Dei”

Andante: “D’un tenero amore”

Allegro vivace: “Io tremar?”

A tempo:  “Va superbo, in quella Reggia”

A cut version could last 7 plus minutes. The uncut performance of the duet from the 80’s with Horne and Ramey  in London clocked in at 11’30, its truly a superb version:

Arsace Assur Duet from Semiramide with Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey live performance London

The recit exposes the power struggle and rivalry between the two characters; Arsace ends his statement with scale with possible cadenza and begins the A section (Maestoso allegreto giusto) which then returns at the A tempo at the end of the scena. The Decca London 1965 recording cuts out the  Andante section, which gives a great platform to show almost a soft side for Assur, wonderful expressive singing for Arsace, as well as beautiful cadenza in which both characters sing together, its a great moment. The “io tremar” of the Allegro vivace changes the mood in an aggressive way to bring us back to the A section, which in the uncut version repeats; its in this section that the ornaments are done.  Musically and dramatically the scena is a mini opera, except that the conflict remains to be resolved (with deadly force) later on in the opera.

Its a big chunk of music. In the Kalmus score its 18 pages for this scena…for now I will learn the return of the A section come scritto  (Horne re writes the passages leading to the end of this first exposition). It definitely needs a high note, as indicated by Rossini by the two fermatas. Not too worried getting this A section in my voice, as well as the gorgeous introspective cantilena section.  The grouping of the figures in the last part of the duet are super trumpet like in character. I sung thru it a couple of times today. Tomorrow I will work on the possible ornaments and cadenzas for the duet.  None are indicated in the Ricci cadenza book. After that, I’m moving on to the Act II cavatina of “In si barbara”. I’m skipping over the Act I finale quintet for now.

I will sing thru a big chunk of this role in a small concert on September 6th in NYC so I can try all this out for size. Still working on that August 19th deadline to learn every note and every word! Maybe not every ornament and cadenza, but yes to be able to read the score from top to bottom.

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Italian mezzo soprano Lucia Valentini-Terrani as Arsace in Rossini’s Semiramide

My “Semiramide” Summer 2017 Challenge Day 2

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As I take myself thru the paces of learning Arsace, something I have been wanting to do for many years now, I’m getting into a good grove.  Yesterday I reviewed the recits I had learned the day before, as well as making more inroads into my duet with Assur, which is extensive.  I found it helpful to make a road map of what Act 1 looks like for Arsace, and that way lay out clear goals by day of what to learn and review.

ACT I – Role of Arsace in Rossini’s Semiramide

No. 4 Recitativo:  “Ecomi al fine in Babilonia”

Aria:  “Ah, quel giorno”

Recitativo:  “Ministri”

No. 5 Scena and duet with Assur

“Bel imago”

Recitativo after Semiramide’s  Bel raggio “Al tuo comando”

No. 8 duet “Serbami ognor”

No. 10 Quintet

I’m hampered by not having a cut sheet, at this point I’m learning all the notes and passages.  Without really knowing the overall architecture of the opera, it already reads to me as a masterpiece. The recitatives are very dramatic and theatrical; Rossini exposes the characters sometimes rapidly changing emotions and thoughts with sudden harmonic changes to allude to different emotional states. In this way it reminds of Handel’s craft in his opera Alcina.

Rossini is always looking for coloratura passages that highlight the characters personality, that follow them as a sort of leimotif; I will find some examples and post.

The recitative “Ecomi al fine” is a four page recitative that is preceded by a mini overture like prelude, that paints the sumptuous and mystery of the Babilonian temple that Arsace has gone for his secret appointment with the temple priests.  A recent Naxos recording omits the recitative. So far Decca London Marilyn Horne disc with Sutherland and the live video on youtube with Lucia Valentini-Terrani are my favorite versions of this accompanied recitativo.  This recit introduces the character and important information about the drama, in my opinion its a big mistake to cut it from the performance.

So on day 2, I have gone thru the recitatives Ecomi al fine; Ministri; recitative preceding duet with Assur E questo Assur, ch’io gia lo detesto; duet with Assur has several sections, I have gone over the first two expositions. Uncut this duet could last 15 minutes at least.  It seems like Rossini builds his scenas like Neoclassical architecture; I want to reach out to my friends at the Rossini Gesellschaft about this comparison!

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The first Assur I ever heard was American bass Samuel Ramey, at MET production in the 90’s

I found on youtube channel Addio bel passato has lovingly put Stigniani’s LP recital on line, and the Arsace aria that I fell in love (together with the recitative excerpted) can be heard.

Ebe Stigniani “Ah quel giorno” from Rossini’s Semiramide, conducted by Antonino Votto

On this current hearing (after 20 years!) the tempo is slow to my modern ear and coloratura slightly labored.  She is very spare on the chest notes.  The album is dated 1953, so she had already clocked in several decades of singing professionally.  There is still a bright and stentorian quality to the upper register, but the the bel canto contraltina ease is not there in this recording. Memory can play tricks, and I have plans to listen to the LP on YouTube.

On to day 3! I will be going over sections of the first act with my pianist, so more later.

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“Semiramide” Summer Challenge 2017

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Today I started my own 30 day challenge to learn all the notes (every melisma and every word!) of the role of Arsace from Rossini’s opera sería masterpiece, “Semiramide”.  I spiral bounded my old Kalmus score which I have owned for many years. The Ricordi critical edition is available, but I’m putting off getting it until all notes and cadenzas are off the page.


Today I learned the first three recitatives as well as the A section of the Arsace/ Assur duet, a confrontation of rivals.

Many years ago I borrowed a long play vinyl of an Italian mezzo active in the 1930’s named Ebe Stignani.  I managed to record it on a tape cassette and started listening. Side A was all light bel canto arias sung with great freshness and youthful tone. On side B Ms. Stignani transformed herself into a spinto/dramatic mezzo with arias from Samson et Delilah arias (sung in Italian of course), the letter aria from Werther as well as the meaty arias from Il Trovatore. On side A the aria “Ah quel giorno” from Rossini’s Semiramide caught my attention. I ordered the whole score (only way for me to excerpt  this aria back then) and learned it pretty much by ear.  I surprised my teacher Richard Torigi a bit when I brought it in, and he even said it wasn’t half bad…and so this aria sung by the character of  Arsace became my first stab ever at music by who was to become my favorite composer, Gioachino Rossini.


The next recording of this aria I started listening to was in one of Marilyn Horne’s Decca London recital albums.  The aria became a sort of vocalise for me before auditions and concert; I never sang it in public until last year actually, at a couple of auditions. The duet with the character of Semiramide  “Serbami ognor” I also started performing it publicly just this past year as part of concert called “Amor en Travesti”, with soprano Gloria Londoño at the Auditorio Nacional de España in Madrid.

One of my operatic idols (flawed, human but divine nonetheless) is Italian mezzo Lucia Valentini-Terrani. I love her live and emotionally connected rendition of the aria on YouTube. The beginning recitative section of Arsace’s first aria is also stunning.

Lucia Valentini Terrani live concert Ecomi al fine…Ah, quel giorno from Rossini’s Semiramide

More on Arsace tomorrow!

“Pascua Florida”: nuevo cíclo para mezzo y piano Miquel Ortega sobre textos de Maria Lejárraga

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“Pascua Florida”: nuevo cíclo para mezzo y piano Miquel Ortega sobre textos de Maria Lejárraga

Pascua Florida Nuevo cíclo de 8 canciones para mezzo soprano y piano, sobre textos de María Lejárraga, compuestas por el compositor Miquel Ortega; estreno absoluto domingo 12 de febrero, 2012 en el National Opera Center de Nueva York; mezzo soprano Anna Tonna y Max Lifchitz, piano.

Notas de programa

María de la O Lejárraga (La Rioja, 1874- Buenos Aires, 1974), conocida también como María Martinez Sierra, escritora y feminista española, es uno de esos personajes particulares que nos deja la historia en ocasiones. Hija de buena familia, logró una educación por encima de lo habitual en una mujer de su época. Esposa del dramaturgo Gregorio Martínez Sierra desde 1900, escribió siempre oculta bajo el nombre de su marido, mientras públicamente defendía los derechos de la mujer, consiguiendo incluso un escaño de diputada en 1933.

El matrimonio Martinez Sierra formó la que probablemente haya sido la unión más singular y enigmática de la historia de las letras españolas, una colaboración que resultó clave para la difusión del modernismo. Fundaron revistas literarias de vanguardia, como Helios y Renacimiento, donde escribieron los mejores escritores su época, y desde su papel como productores teatrales en el Teatro Eslava, impulsaron la más importante renovación teatral del primer tercio del siglo xx en el pais, mientras reunían a su alrededor a los creadores más inovadores e importantes del momento.

Tras su matrimonio, María Lejárraga escribió bajo el nombre de Gregorio Martínez Sierra, aunque ha quedado claro en tiempos modernos que todas las obras de Martínez Sierra fueron escritas por nuestra autora (auténticos best-sellers de la época, como Canción de cuna, llevada al cine en 4 ocasiones, una de ellas en Hollywood), asi como también las primeras traducciones en España de Shakespeare, Shaw, Maeterlinck, Ibsen y Ionesco. Entre los muchos triunfos en el mundo de la lírica de la “marca” Martinez Sierra se pueden citar Las Golondrinas y La llama, con música de Usandizaga (1914), y Margot y Jardin de Oriente, ambas de Joaquín Turina.

Hoy nos enfocamos en dicho trabajo de María Lejárraga en el campo de la lírica, y concretamente en la amistad y colaboración entre ella y el compositor Manuel de Falla. Ellos fueron los creadores de dos obras clave del ballet español del siglo XX, El amor brujo y El sombrero de tres picos, que llevaron a la fama mundial Les ballets Russes y Antonia Mercé, La Argentina.

Manuel de Falla conoció al matrimonio Martínez Sierra en París. A consecuencia de la I Guerra Mundial, Falla regresa a España y empieza a trabajar con el matrimonio, en realidad con Lejárraga únicamente. En 1915 Lejárraga y el compositor gaditano realizaron un viaje a finales de marzo y primeros de abril a Andalucía, en visperas del estreno de la primera versión de El amor brujo en el Teatro Lara, el 15 de abril de ese año. La primera ciudad que visitaron fue Granada, ciudad que el músico gaditano no conocía, despues Ronda y Cádiz. En parte del epistolario que mantuvieron ambos (y que publica Antonio Gallego en un trabajo titulado ‘Pascua Florida: Un proyecto poético de María Lejárraga para Manuel de Falla’ en 1996 ) se refieren muchas veces a una especie de “album de viaje” poético musical. En 1980 Union Musical Española publica Obras desconocidas de Manuel de Falla, con cinco canciones, entre ellas “La canción andaluza: Pan de Ronda”, que formaba parte de ese álbum de viaje.

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Manuel de Falla, Maria Lejarraga y Joaquin Turina

En las cartas se comentaban planes para una ”suite” y un preludio. Pero la correspondencia delata un cambio de tono, desde la complicidad y familiaridad inicial, al enfado meses despues del viaje, por un incidente entre los dos amigos. La única canción que nos llega, a pesar de los ruegos de Lejárraga a Falla para que pusiera en música otras piezas del poemario, es, pues, “Pan de Ronda”. En el Archivo Manuel de Falla se conserva el esbozo de lo que hubiera sido esta suite vocal, escrito a lapiz con letra de Lejárraga sobre el dorso de un programa de concierto en Cádiz:

“Para el maestro Falla, tan amigo de guardar papeles viejos.”
“Pascua Florida” El jardín venenoso El descanso en San Nicolás El corazón que duerme bajo el agua El barrio gitano El salón de Carlos V Tinieblas en el convento El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad El sol de Gibraltar Ciudades orientales Cádiz se echa a navegar

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Esbozo original del texto “Cadiz se ha echado a navegar” por Maria Lejarraga, cortesia del Archivo-Manuel de Falla (Granada)

Al leer por primera vez estos versos salta a la vista la belleza de los poemas que sobreviven de este listado: El jardín venenoso; Tinieblas en el convento; El descanso en San Nicolás; El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad y Cádiz se echa a navegar. Un proyecto que no se completó, y que pudo haber sido otra obra maestra de Falla.

Desde que en 2010 Anna Tonna comenzó este viaje para conocer la faceta creadora y a la vez de musa inspiradora de María Lejárraga, todo lo que ha descubierto le ha llevado, junto con Mari Luz Gonzalez, autora del libro Música y músicos en la vida de María Lejárraga, a idear un proyecto en el cual estos poemas semiocultos de Lejárraga pudieran recobrar vida bajo la pluma de un compositor que diera voz a estos versos, creados durante una época feliz para los dos amigos, ese viaje en el que la escritora desveló al insigne maestro las bellezas de la Alhambra y del barrio del Albaicín…

De esta manera Tonna y González encargaron al compositor Miquel Ortega esta labor tan especial y emotiva, terminar este ciclo de canciones, para que músicos y publico se reencuentren con la obra “Pascua Florida”. Tres poemas más, encontrados en el archivo de los herederos de María Lejárraga, forman parte del presente cíclo: Nana del amor perdido, Yo sabía un cantar moro y Mañana de abril.

Con melodias depuradas y llenas de emoción, el compositor logra dar con el color de sus sonoridades, compaginándolo con rítmos que nos llegan de la tierra, el ambiente y sol andaluces, mostrando, tras 102 años de oscuridad, la intimidad de los protagonistas de este viaje por la Andalucía del 1915.

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“…me dejé imbuir por la musicalidad del propio poema que a veces hasta parecía dictarme la melodía.” Miquel Ortega

Pascua Florida
Música: Miquel Ortega Letra: María Lejárraga

Jardín venenoso Descanso en San Nicolás Tinieblas en el convento Noche estrellada mirando a Gibraltar Nana del amor perdido Yo sabía un cantar moro Cádiz se ha echado a navegar Mañana de abril

Bibliografía
Gallego, Antonio. “Pascua Florida: Un proyecto poético de María Lejárraga para Manuel de Falla.” Revista Atlántica Poesía, 11 (1996): 33-55.

Luz, González Peña María. Música y músicos en la vida de María Lejárraga. Logroño: Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2009.

Webber, Chr. “María and Gregorio Martínez Sierra.” = Zarzuela.net. N.p.,n.d.Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

Sierra, María Martínez, y Alda Blanco. Gregorio y yo: medio siglo de colaboración. Valencia: Pre-Textos, 2000.

Miquel Ortega (Barcelona,1963) es pianista, director de orquesta y compositor. Formado en el Conservatorio del Liceo, amplió sus estudios con Manuel Oltra y Antoni Ros Marbà. Como director ha dedicado una atención especial al mundo de la ópera y la zarzuela.

Ha estrenado títulos como La celestina, de Joaquim Nin-Culmell (2008), Dalí, de Xavier Benguerel (2011), y ha dirigido a los teatros del Liceo, la Zarzuela, Teatro Real de Madrid, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Capitole de Toulouse y Covent Garden, entre otros.

Es autor de la ópera La casa de Bernarda Alba (2007), el ballet Bestiario (2002-09) y el cuento musical El niño y la creación del mundo, estrenado en el Teatro Real de Madrid en enero del 2012. La casa de Bernarda Alba se estrenó en Brasov (Rumanía) en 2007 y posteriormente, en 2009, la obra tuvo su estreno en España en los Festivales Internacionales de Santander y Perelada.

Ortega es hoy en día uno de los directores españoles de su generación más apreciados en el campo operístico. Ha dirigido, entre otros, en el Gran Teatre del Liceu y el Palau de la Música de Barcelona, en el Teatro Real, Teatro de la Zarzuela y Auditorio Nacional de Música de Madrid, en el Kennedy Center de Washington, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Lindbury Studium de la Royal Opera House, Covent Garden de Londres, King’s Theater de Edimburgo, etc.

Su actividad como compositor también tiene a la voz como elemento principal, y muchos cantantes de la actualidad tienen en repertorio algunas de sus canciones; el tenor argentino Luis Lima, el barítono español Carlos Álvarez (que ha grabado bajo la dirección del propio autor cuatro de sus canciones) y las sopranos españolas Montserrat Caballé y Ainhoa Arteta, entre otros. Su producción comprende además, obras de cámara, sinfónicas y óperas.

Su estilo, de carácter mediterráneo, se distingue por su facilidad para la melodía y el uso de la tonalidad y la modalidad, preferentemente, con incursiones politonales y atonales esporádicas.

KAIDAN, promoción y comunicación Blanca Gutiérrez Cardona Tfo: 625 89 93 71 blancagutierrezcardona@gmail.com

Amor Latino Concert Feb. 12th 2017 and the Max Lifchitz duet upon Sor Juana’s poem “Me acerco y mi retiro”, a blog article by Celeste Mann

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I rarely write about myself in my blog, but I have a concert coming up on February 12, 2017 in New York City and that’s my focus for the next week. The theme and title is “Amor Latino/Latin Love.” I’m performing this with two other singers, Celia Castro and Anna Tonna, and pianist/composer, Max Lifchitz. Here’s […]

via “Me acerco y me retiro:” Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Set to Music — deslumbrar

“Tu Eternidad” a song for voice and guitar by Ecuadorian composer, Diego Luzuriaga

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“Tu Eternidad” a song for voice and guitar by Ecuadorian composer, Diego Luzuriaga
      While putting our program together for “Belleza de las Américas” for voice and guitar, I looked over a piece of music I had received as a comp copy from Oxford University Press many years ago. They were simple but beautiful songs by the Ecuadorian composer
Diego Luzuriaga. I  messaged the maestro via email  this past fall to ask about his complete cycle for voice and guitar from where the songs came from,  Eleven Songs, composed to his own text. He answered right away and we talked about the work. The cycle is out of print and not obtainable, although it can be checked out from the NY Public Library. I would say the texts are unified by a sort of celebration of life:  a lullaby for the birth of his son, hope in the future as well songs that are set to a kind of romantic poetry, with imagery that is heartfelt and with the smell of  earth. All the songs were recorded by soprano Dana Hanchard (I purchased this CD via Amazon), in which Ms. Hanchard performs these ballads in a  frank and personal manner.
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Diego Luzuriaga

I showed the songs to guitarist Francisco Roldán, and he suggested we work on “Tu eternidad”;  we started to develop the piece for our next performance in Long Island this past fall. The composer writes on the score the word “pasillo”, to give us a clue as to the affect of the song. The “pasillo” is a prevalent 3/4 meter and dance step that can be found in many South American countries. The words are simple, forthright but sensual; here is my hasty English translation of this song:

Your Eternity
Inside the wind I will find your voice,
following the path of my days in the sun
and in high nights, with my singing voice.
 I will find your warm clarity
and your fresh cool hands…
Climbing near the rivers, the fog and forests,
I will find your breast, your pulse and your shadow,
I will find your breath and the eternal you
      We worked the song to find its natural arches and climaxes, and for me to find a way to say these words in the most natural way possible.  We performed the song at least once in the original guitar and voice. I afterwards was thinking of ways to include another South American dance in the off shoot of “Bellezas de las Américas”, the project “Alegría Hispana“, which is comprised of the  Latin American songs that Francisco and myself perform, but with the inclusion of the art of Spanish dancer Elisabet Torras Aguilera.  The program as it stood had several dances from Spain and only one from the Americas ( a habanera “La paloma” by Sebastian Yradier).  In order to add more of South American dance, I suggested that Elisabet try to interpret “Tu Eternidad” by Mstro. Luzuriaga with us.
      Elisabet’s specialty includes all the important dance genres of her native Spain (regional folkore, Andalusian flamenco as well as the sophisticated and suave 18th century Escuela bolera).  She willingly took the project up, listening to various different “pasillos” on Youtbe, as well as observing various dance shows, including interpretations by the National Ballet of Ecuador and street videos of this dance…she dabbled in Wikipedia as well as  online documentaries to learn about the birth of the “pasillo”, and the influence of the European waltz upon it.  She related that were two types of “pasillo”, a ballroom version and a popular street version. The costume she chose to  represent this piece included a blouse with high collar (very 19th century), with a full colonial style skirt.  Elisabet’s “pasillo” was a historical, sober and elegant depiction of “pasillo”.  We premiered this new creation this past summer for the Latin American Cultural Center in Queens.
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Spanish dancer Elisabet Torras Aguilera, guitarist Francisco Roldan and mezzo soprano Anna Tonna at the Tropicalia Hall, performing “Alegria Hispana” for the Latin American Cultural Center of Queens. Phot credit:  H. Stephen Brown

      This coming Sunday December 11th 2016, we will do “Alegria Hispana” once more, and we interpret this beautiful version for voice, guitar and dancer of Diego Luzuriaga’s 
“Tu Eternidad“, in Huntington (Long Island) at 2:30 pm; free admission. Presented by the South Huntington Public Library (located at 145 Pidgeon Hill Road).  For more information, please call 631-549-4411, or check out our Facebook Page Bellezas de las Americas.
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Ninth Annual Latin American Piano & Song of Festival of New York: Review by Sandra Mercado

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Ninth Annual Latin American Piano & Song of Festival of New York: Review by Sandra Mercado

The 9th Annual Latin American Piano & Song Festival of New York:

Centennial celebration of the birth of Carlos Jiménez Mabarak, Consuelo Velázquez, Alberto Ginastera, and Henrietta Yurchenco on November 14, 2016 at the Renee Weiler Concert Hall in Greenwich House Music School, New York City.

I had no previous knowledge of the Latin American Piano & Song Festival in New York City. If I had, I would have been there since the first year. This is César Reyes’ 9th year as producer, performer, and music director of this project. I’m familiar with Latin American Art Song but I’m not familiar with Latin American Piano Music. Reyes’ talents as a musicologist were in ample display on November 14th.

Before each piece Reyes addressed the audience and gave a short introduction of how he encountered the piece and how he got his hands on the score, since working editions of this music is difficult to obtain. He dedicated the program to one of his mentors, the American Ethnomusicologist Henrietta Yurchenco. He began the program with Mexican composer Carlos Jiménez Mabarak “Sonata para piano” and “Ay luna ven”. I didn’t know Jimenéz’s music, so it was a pleasure listening to this wonderful pianist bestow life to the notes on the page. This was a great beginning to what ended up being a delightful evening.

Next, he played “Fiesta de pájaros” by Guatemalan composer Jesús Castillo. As a listener, it was fun to picture each bird. Reyes technique allows him to produce a lot of sound and a clear trill for the bird calls. He followed with the Puerto Rican danza “Mis Amores” by Simón Madera. With this piece Reyes failed to transport me to a late 19th early 20th century ballroom in Old San Juan. I was a little disappointed since he had previously taken me to the Amazonas with the bird calls in the previous piece. This didn’t last long since he made up for it by playing “Marinera de concierto” by Peruvian composer Rosa Mercedes Ayarza. This piece was a great discovery, and a wonderful example of Peruvian Nationalist music.

For this festival Reyes invited singer Diana Sofía to sing Consuelo Velázquez’ classics “Amar y vivir” and “Besame mucho”. He then closed the concert with Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s “Milonga” and “Danzas Argentinas”. To an enthusiastic clapping audience, he performed the Mexican National Anthem transcription by Ricardo Castro displaying great skill playing a masterwork of Mexican Nationalism. I greatly enjoyed this concert and discovered new music from composers had not known previously. Thank you, César Reyes, for a delightful evening. Looking forward to the 10th Annual Latin American Piano & Song Festival.

http://www.greenwichhouse.org/announcements/cesar-reyes-latin-american-piano-and-song-festival

Guest writer of the  Spanish Song Slinger blog, Puerto Rican soprano Sandra Mercado is based in New York City and is dedicated to the classical vocal repertoire of the composers of Latin American.  http://www.sandramercado.com/

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