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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Today is the 155th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Mahler. Mahler lived only to the age of 50, leaving his 9th Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde as yet unperformed at his death. Better known as a conductor during his lifetime, Mahler was sure that his compositions would eventually achieve fame. What young associate of Mahler conducted the premieres of his last two major works? Answer >>


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      Quiz: How Hipster is Your Taste in Classical Music?

      Admit it, liking classical music is a little bit hipster. But, how hipster is your taste in classical music? Do you love the classics, or prefer more obscure repertoire? Do you like listening to familiar masterworks, or do you constantly crave new sounds? Take this quiz and find out how hipster your tastes are! more...

      Why the American National Anthem isn’t even American

      Yup. You read that correctly. The American National Anthem isn’t American. Well, it has become American. But ironically, the tune to the “Star Spangled Banner” is actually a British pub ballad. How did a drinking song that originated in the country from which America sought its independence travel across the pond and become our National more... more...

      How One Man Built the Great American Orchestra

        The names inscribed on the façade of Chicago’s Orchestra Hall – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner – are familiar to every concertgoer. But another name that is proudly displayed not once, but twice alongside this pantheon of musical masters may be less familiar to you: Theodore Thomas. Theodore Thomas founded what would later more... more...

      Countertenor David Daniels on Finding His Voice, Finding Himself, and Being Married by Justice Ginsburg

      David Daniels is “the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever,” to use the words of the New York Times. Though many know him best for portraying some of opera’s greatest heroes from Julius Caesar to Orpheus, he is also passionate about civil rights. more...

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      Dot, Squiggle and Rest review – abstract opera for kids leaves them restless

      Polka, London

      Royal Opera House and Polka’s opera and dance show for the under-fours has a smidgeon of magic and a dreamy staging but fails to engage its young audience

      This collaboration between the Polka and the Royal Opera House is a 45-minute opera and dance experience for two- to four-year-olds. It is not the first time that Polka have produced opera for the very young: the 2010 Skitterbang Island, with a libretto by Phil Porter and a score by Martin Ward, was a livelier and more ambitious show than this abstract affair. Dot, Squiggle and Rest is perfectly charming, but a bit unadventurous and unengaging.

      Related: The 10 best: operas for children

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      Joan of Arc: striking the right note for a silent film classic

      Film director Carl Theodor Dreyer never settled on a score to accompany his 1928 silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc. Will the Orlando Consort’s a cappella version – using medieval songs composed in the saint’s lifetime – prove a more fitting soundtrack?

      Tonight, in St Margaret’s church in York, and the following day in Tewkesbury Abbey, the Orlando Consort, a vocal ensemble that specialises in medieval music, will take to the stage and sing a chanson by Guillaume Dufay with lyrics by Christine de Pizan from her 1429 poem about Joan of Arc. Dressed all in black, small earpieces in our ears, the glow of two laptops casting ghostly shadows on our faces, we will look more like Kraftwerk c.1975 than an early-music group. Above our heads a silver screen will leap into life and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent-movie masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc, will begin to roll. Our purpose - a live accompaniment of music taken entirely from the period of Joan of Arc’s brief life – will now become apparent.

      Silent movies were almost always accompanied by live music, and the two premieres of the movie, held in Copenhagen and Paris, duly featured specially composed scores, though Dreyer himself, like most directors of the time, had no say in the matter of the actual music. Since then works by a dazzling variety of musicians – from Nick Cave to JS Bach – have accompanied screenings, and the original score for the Paris premiere (by Victor Alix and Léo Pouget) is still occasionally performed.

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      One hell of a way to make a Royal Opera debut

      Russian soprano Ekaterina Bakanova stepped in to sing Violetta at Covent Garden with only hours’ notice, and gave the performance of her life

      There are always advantages to seeing a show at the end of its run rather than the opening night: the cast are on top of their vocal performances and their dramatic relationships, and with first-night anxieties out of the way, the musical co-ordination between orchestra pit and stage has had time to refine and relax.

      Which is what we in the audience might have expected on Saturday night at the last show of this season’s La Traviata at the Royal Opera House. But that ain’t what happened. As Director of Opera Kasper Holten explained, the evening’s scheduled Violetta, Sonya Yoncheva, had woken up unwell and by lunchtime was forced to cancel her appearance. Which left the Royal Opera in something of a pickle, to put it mildly. Astonishingly, however, they found a replacement from within their ranks: the Russian soprano Ekaterina Bakanova who was that morning also in the Opera House rehearsing the role of Musetta for her Covent Garden debut in Puccini’s La Bohème, on 9 July.

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      new releases

      Beck: Symphonies, Op 2

      Naxos 8.573323

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      Abbado Conducts Schubert

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4652

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      Nordic Affect: Clockworking

      Sono Luminus SLE-70001

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      Music of Orlande de Lassus

      Hyperion CDA-68064

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      Garrick Ohlsson: Etudes

      Hyperion CDA-68080

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