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John R. Pierce

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Die Zauberflöte
DVD: Davis, Keenlyside, Röschmann.

In an article for about the musical high and low points of 2003, Andrew Clements named Lorraine Hunt Lieberson the outstanding individual of 2003.

Outstanding individual

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson - there is no better mezzo-soprano in the world today. British audiences had two chances to hear her at her glorious best in 2003: as Irene in Theodora at Glyndebourne, and at the Proms, singing Britten's cantata Phaedra and Jocasta in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex."
100 Essential Recordings
Charles Michener has written an interesting article about Lorraine Hunt Lieberson for the New Yorker of January 5, 2004.
On the compact disc Romance of the Violin, Joshua Bell, violinist, plays several selections, including a few transcriptions from opera, such as "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi, "Casta diva" from Norma, and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo ed Euridice.
January 8, 2004

"Peruvian tenor turns audience into mush" is the title of a review by Stephanie von Buchau for the
Alameda Times-Star of a recital by Juan Diego Flórez.


"On Thursday after an 18-month renovation project at a cost of $38.4 million, Hill Auditorium [at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor] will be rededicated. The first concert in the restored hall, with the violinist Midori, the countertenor
David Daniels and the Tony Award-winning soprano Audra McDonald, will be presented on Jan. 17."--from an article in the New York Times.


In the book One More Kiss: The Broadway Musical in the 1970s, Ethan Mordden surveys another decade of the Broadway musical.  This volume may be the last in the series.  Although it is well written and demonstrates great knowledge of the subject, I found the book a little less interesting than some of the other books in the series, perhaps because I found the musicals of the 70's somewhat less interesting than those of previous decades.


Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It
by Geoff Dyer is a collection of chapters that have been described as “essays” by other reviewers.  The chapters are accounts of various experiences that Dyer had while traveling over the years in such places as New Orleans, Miami Beach, Detroit, Bali, Cambodia, Amsterdam, and Libya. Dyer is a good writer, but what he has to say is not terribly interesting, although at times he is somewhat amusing.  “Trivial Travels of a Substance Abuser” could have been the title of the book.  Dyer seems to be just another druggie of the upper middle class traveling to exotic places where he hangs out, in some belief that he is cool and hip because he is using pot and other substances.  I would suggest borrowing this book from the public library if you think that you might find it interesting.  You can read it in a few days.  It is mildly amusing, but not really worth buying, in my opinion.


I began reading Wayfaring at Waverly in Silver Lake, a collection of stories by James McCourt, each related to one of the seven deadly sins, but I discontinued reading after the first story.  The story is about an aging female movie star in southern California (perhaps all the stories are about her), who is, I take it, supposed to be interesting ipso facto by virtue of being a movie star.  Most of the story is told in the form of supposedly witty dialogue among various Hollywood types, but I did not laugh at all and, in fact, I usually did not know who was talking or about what, and I was too bored to try to figure it out.
Michel Plasson conducted a recording of French opera arias sung by Natalie Dessay, released at on January 13, 2004.

Massenet: Manon
1. Suis-je gentille ainsi? - 2:52
2. Obeissons quand leur voix appelle - 2:59
3. Rire toujours? Vous vous trompez... - 3:55

Thomas: Mignon
1. Je suis Titania la blonde - 5:59

Massenet: Cherubin
1. Vive amour qui reve - 4:12

Boieldieu: La fete du village voisin
1. Profitez de la vie - 2:30

Offenbach: Robinson Crusoe
1. Conduisez-moi vers celui que j'adore - 3:58

Rossini: Le comte Ory

1. En proie a la tristesse - 9:59

Donizetti: La fille du regiment
1. C'en est donc fait... Salut a la France ! - 8:33

Gounod: Romeo et Juliette

1. Ah ! Je veux vivre - 3:35

Thomas: Hamlet

1. A vos jeux mes amis - 13:34
2. Le voila, je crois l'entendre - 4:56

Natalie Dessay - soprano
Choeur Les Elements
Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
Michel Plasson
January 12, 2004

Grant Llewellyn will be the new music director of the North Carolina Symphony, says an Associated Press article in the
Charlotte Observer.

"We knew he was the one we wanted," said David Chambless Worters, the symphony's president and CEO. "Grant simply hit it out of the park. He was so energized, and he gained the absolute respect of the musicians.

"During the concert [last November], there was euphoria in the audience. We saw that he had the talent, charisma and passion to transform us into America's next great orchestra."


"English National Opera is delaying the reopening of its home theatre, the London Coliseum, until 21 February, after its £41m restoration project," reports
BBC News.
January 13, 2004

"It's my baby. I'm a Webmaster,"  says
Thomas Hampson about his website, as quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Most of my colleagues who have Web sites have them done by the record companies," Hampson says. "Record companies want to sell, whereas ... I'm not trying to sell anything. As a way of providing a lot of people with immediate information, there should be some place from every artist where you trust what your reading is directly from the artist and not from a recording company or a publicist."
January 14, 2004

Deborah Voigt
, ill with the flu, had to cancel her recital for Palm Beach Opera on Monday night.  Sylvia McNair was able to appear in her stead, to give a recital of some of Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne, Ravel's Sheherezade, and a "cabaret" second half of musical-theater songs, reviewed by Sharon McDaniel for the Palm Beach Post.
"On Monday, January 12, 2004, French Cultural Counselor Jean-René Gehan presented American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and composer Ned Rorem with the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York," reports


"The most noteworthy part of the film [
Mona Lisa Smile], a fictional tale set at Wellesley College during the 1950s, is how much it apparently got wrong about student life of that period, according to a growing phalanx of former students," writes Philip Maddocks for


In East Haddam, Connecticut, Goodspeed Musicals' "2004 season will conclude Oct. 1-Dec. 12 with the revised revival of
Mack & Mabel, the 1974 musical about silent movie creators Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. [Composer-lyricist Jerry] Herman will be in East Haddam to be a part of the development of the first major American production using the revised script by Francine Pascal, the sister of the late original librettist, Michael Stewart."--from an article by Kenneth Jones at
A scene from Revolution's Mona Lisa Smile - 2003 
Rated: PG-13
Photo © Copyright Revolution Studios
January 16, 2004

"In his first appearance as the 14th music director in the 124-year history of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Levine will lead the ensemble next fall in a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8.

"The performance on Oct. 22, combining the forces not only of the orchestra but also the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the American Boychoir and vocal soloists including Jane Eaglen,
Hei-Kyung Hong, Heidi Grant Murphy, Stephanie Blythe, Yvonne Naef, Richard Margison, Eike Wilm Schulte and John Relyea, is one of the highlights of the 23-week 2004-05 subscription season announced yesterday."
--from an article in the
New York Times.

Boston Globe reports that other performances of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's 2004-2005 season will include Roméo et Juliette by Berlioz with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, the final scene from Salome with Karita Mattila, and a concert performance of Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer with Deborah Voigt.
Norah Jones' new compact disc Feels Like Home is set for release February 10, 2004, and can be ordered from


As part of the pre-game show at the Super Bowl on
February 1,
Josh "Groban, singing his hit 'You Raise Me Up' prior to the national anthem [to be sung by Beyonce Knowles], will be joined on the field by crew members from the next space shuttle mission to commemorate the first anniversary of the seven Columbia crew members who were killed in the shuttle disaster on February 1, 2003.  . . .  The game will be televised by CBS and is expected to reach 130 million viewers nationwide with a potential worldwide viewing audience of one billion people."
The Herald News
A postage stamp depicting Seiji Ozawa,  Musikdirektor Wiener Staatsoper, went on sale at the Austrian post office on January 16, 2004.
"Is he the best tenor in the world?" asks Robert Jones about Juan Diego Flórez at
General LIDS
Australia will honor Joan Sutherland with a set of stamps, reports The Australian.  "One of the stamps depicts Sutherland in costume as Lucia di Lammermoor - the role in which she conquered the opera world."
"In a case pitting the [New York] Mets against The Met Office -- Britain's meteorological service -- the British Patent Office ruled the Major League team may register its logo.
* * *
"The Met Office is weighing an appeal."
--from an Associated Press article at
January 23, 2004

"Remnants of the Florida Philharmonic were auctioned Thursday, with orchestra and opera companies across the country finding bargains on everything from a Steinway piano to office equipment.

"The auction raised $170,000 for the bankrupt orchestra, which went out of business last May because of unending financial woes."
--from a report at
January 26, 2004

This afternoon I was fortunate to attend a very interesting program, the Shakespeare Concerts 2004 Boston performance at Rabb Hall in the Boston Public Library.   
For my comments, click here.
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