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      Carl Grapentine

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      QUIZ – What Fairy Tale Opera Are You?

      Everyone loves a fairy tale, and one of the most magical ways to experience one is at the opera house! Some of the most beloved operas of all time are inspired by fairy tales and other enchanting stories. What fairy tale opera are you? more...

      10 Facts About Bach’s Coffee Opera You Need to Know

      Yup, that's right, J.S. Bach wrote a chamber opera about coffee. And not just coffee, coffee addiction! Here's some facts about Bach's "Coffee Cantata" and how the piece came to be about. more...

      With 3 operas on 1 night, which do you pick?

      When three opera companies in one city all open their seasons on the same night, which opera do you attend? On Saturday, September 26, 2015, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, and Chicago Fringe Opera opened their seasons, performing The Marriage of Figaro, Lucio Silla, and The Turn of the Screw respectively. With two more... more...

      Your Soundtrack for the Supermoon Eclipse

      Tonight we'll experience a serendipitous celestial spectacle: a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse! As you're watching the skies, you need a little night music for the perfect soundtrack. Check out this list of moon music: some are well known classics, others are almost as rare as a supermoon eclipse! more...

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      Objects at an Exhibition review – Aurora Orchestra finds scientific inspiration

      Science Museum, London
      Six pieces suggested by objects in the Science Museum with site-specific performances of each made for an intriguing evening

      Staged concerts have been a speciality of conductor Nicholas Collon and his Aurora Orchestra almost since it was formed 10 years ago. While some of the shows have been designed for touring, the latest, Objects at an Exhibition, was site specific. In collaboration with NMC Records, the orchestra had commissioned six composers to write pieces suggested by exhibits in the Science Museum in South Kensington; the results were then given their first performances in situ, as close as possible to the objects that inspired them, in an evening-long event devised by director Tim Hopkins.

      The oldest composer represented is in her 80s, and the youngest in his mid-30s, so the stylistic range was vast. Thea Musgrave’s rather French, rather neoclassical Power Play, conducted by Nicholas Collon among the engines and turbines of the museum’s Energy Hall, was worlds away from Christopher Mayo’s Supermarine, inspired by the slate statue of the engineer R J Mitchell in the flight gallery, with cello and double bass punctuating its aero-engine samples. It contrasted, too, with Claudia Molitor’s rather engaging 2TwoLO, that harks back to the earliest days of radio in the UK, when broadcasting music was forbidden on the fledgling station 2LO, and imagines a way of smuggling a performance (of Handel’s famous Largo) into this music-free zone.

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      Nowe that's what I call music: Anne Boleyn's favourite songs

      A Tudor songbook with the inscription Mistres ABolleyne nowe thus is believed to have belonged to Anne Boleyn. It reveals a fascinating glimpse of the Tudor Queen’s life before the tragedy that befell her as Henry VIII’s wife

      Anne Boleyn is the most notorious of Henry VIII’s wives. The King’s captivation by her was to change the political and religious landscape of England forever. Reformation was brewing, and Henry wanted a son. For Anne, he was willing to divorce his first queen of 24 years, break with Rome and make himself Head of the Church in England, as well as destroy those near and dear to him who dared to stand in his way. But, having achieved his ambitions, and after only three years of marriage, Henry VIII had Anne executed on multiple charges of adultery, including, among the five accused, her brother George Viscount Rochford and lutenist Mark Smeaton. Was she guilty? After centuries of debate the jury is still out, and we probably will never know.

      Anne is thought to have been born in the early years of the 16th century, not in her family home at Hever Castle as many assume, but in Norfolk, probably in Blickling. In the spring of 1513 she became a maid in honour in the household of Margaret of Austria (daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I), who was famous for her patronage of musicians and who possessed many important music books. In the following year Anne’s ambitious father arranged her transfer to the French court where she attended Henry VIII’s sister Mary, who was to marry Louis XII. She later served under Mary’s stepdaughter Queen Claude, with whom she stayed until she was called home to England early in 1522.

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      Werther review – emotional power despite the reductions

      Britten theatre, London
      With a slimmed-down orchestra and baritone lead, Massenet’s opera sounds substantially different, but a strong cast, especially Lauren Zolezzi, ensure it’s a rewarding evening

      Oliver Platt’s production of Massenet’s lyric drama for English Touring Opera has some unusual features. Visually, it is a simplified version, with designer Oliver Townsend providing a single interior set, and one or two secondary characters have gone missing: the village boozer Schmidt – ably sung by Jeff Stewart – loses his drinking companion Johann, many of whose lines are transferred to Michael Druiett’s solidly respectable Bailiff, who thereby gains an unexpected fondness for the bottle.

      The small group of the Bailiff’s young children, though, remains; at the Britten theatre the perfectly rehearsed team comes from Vauxhall primary school, south London.

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      Discover WFMT's Classical Italy next May! Join Peter van de Graaff on this exclusive twelve-day classical music lover's journey to "Bella Italia" next May. Imagine staying in the heart of Venice in a restored old abbey and experiencing Donizetti' opera La favorite at the historic La Fenice Opera House!

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