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Something I like

I was extremely impressed by Berlioz's Les Troyens at Royal Opera House. Anna Caterina Antonacci was out of this world portraying Cassandra. Since I attended her recital at Wigmore Hall two years ago I've been waiting to listen to her live in a production. She was a-ma-zing! Brian Hymel and Eva Maria Westbroek did a great job singing those endless duets and arias. And McVicar's horse head was the sensation of the evening. I could talk hours about what I saw, the feelings, Pappano, the sets, the chorus, the 34 violins and violas playing like one, the drama in the voices. Many would think it's crazy to resist to more than 4 hours of music (all in all the performance lasted 5 hours and 45 minutes). It's not, if everything it's well done.  I'd do it again anytime if I had the chance.

Got back home and listened again to some arias and duets. I got stuck in this one, Nuit d'ivresse. There are so many versions on YouTube. The one above is only audio, part of Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna's 1996 Duets and arias CD. It's not easy listening because it's long, but it's sooooo beautiful. Give it a try. 

And also listen to:
Janet Baker and Jon Vickers version of Nuit d'ivresse (as suggested by my friend)
Anna Caterina Antonacci - Les Grecs ont disparu (Cassandre's aria in act I)

Have a marvelous weekend!

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Tickets for Tosca @SF Opera, on sale on July 2


Single tickets for Tosca performances in Nov/Dec 2012 going on sale on Monday, July 2 at 10am (PDT, GMT -7 hours), on the website of San Francisco Opera House.


Floria Tosca - Angela Gheorghiu - NOV 15, 18, 21, 25, 28; DEC 1
Mario Cavaradosi - Massimo Giordano
Barom Scarpia - Roberto Frontali

The opera stars Angela Gheorghiu, "in a part she seems to have been born to play" (Opera Today) and "who, like Tosca, is a born diva" (The Independent, London); Massimo Giordano, praised by The New York Times for his "ardent, expressive singing;" and veteran baritone Roberto Frontali, who brought "vocal brass and weight" (The Dallas Morning News) to San Francisco Opera's The Girl of the Golden West (2010).

As you'll see in the short video on the SF website (featuring another cast), the production is traditional. Which is good. 

And one more great things that many North American opera houses have, pre-Opera Talks. They are free to ticketholders and take place in the main theater in the Orchestra section, 55 minutes prior to curtain. Don't hesitate to go as they are meant to introduce you into the atmosphere.

Happy shopping!


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La Boheme on June 23, with PHOTOS

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, La Boheme act I

The second night of La Boheme at Royal Opera House opened in front of a full house packed with fans and a huge amount of expectations. I was pretty nervous myself. Imagine what waiting for an entire year can cause. Thinking from the other perspective, it must have been very difficult to perform in such conditions, to transform the energy coming from the venue in something magic. 

The beginning reminded me why I would have loved to ask Puccini to drop off boys' chit chat. No sparks there and the orchestra didn't help too much. Finally Benoit left and the opera started.

Angela's Mi chiamano Mimi was the most beautiful rendition of what I heard this year. From where I was, it seemed like her voice was coming from everywhere. No matter the pianissimo, it could be perfectly heard. Round, silky, full of feelings. Gosh, why isn't there a pause and rewind button on the armrest? Not fair! I have listened to this opera tens of times and my favorite moments always pass by too fast. Same here. I blinked twice and the aria was over leaving behind accelerated heart beating.
The second fabulous moment was Mimi and Marcello's duet in the third act. Perfect chemistry, his low, round voice matched hers perfectly. Something to dream of. Soon after there was Angela's second aria, Donde lieta usci. I heard what my heart needed to hear. And I can't be more thankful. 

And what a night we all had! At the curtain call lots of flowers landed on stage. Cheers and clippings and bravi coming from everywhere. So happy I could be part of this celebration!

Angela Gheorghiu & Roberto Alagna, La Boheme act III
Curtain call, June 23
Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alanga, Nuccia Focile, Yuri Vorobiev, George Petean, Thomas Oliemans

George Petean (Marcello)
Roberto Alagna

Angela Gheorghiu


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Curtain call VIDEO from La Boheme on June 23

Thanks, Kyoko! Nice meeting you!


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My Boheme

Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Nuccia Focile
Curtail call La Boheme, June 23

More to come...


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"What I felt on stage it’s not a story anymore, it’s a fact!". Interview in Adevarul

The were two interviews published on the day after the first Boheme, one in Adevarul and the second one on Mediafax. By coincidence both have similar questions and similar answers. But I chose the one in Adevarul as favorite for the atmosphere and for its stronger connection to the event. When reading it I had the feeling I'm actually there, at the Royal Opera House. When I go to ROH I always stop in front of a certain photo. Just to be sure it's still there.


Interview by Ana-Maria Onisei
Adevarul, June 20, 2012

20 years ago, in 1992, you stepped on the stage of the Royal Opera House to perform in La Boheme, a role that also marked you international debut. What are your feelings about this role today?
First time I sang this role on stage was when I graduated the Music Conservatory in Bucharest and the performance was staged at the Opera House in Cluj. Covent Garden was the international debut, if we may say so. I auditioned also with La Boheme

Do you cherish memories related to La Boheme?
It’s a very beautiful story. It reminds me of the dreamy youth years I spent in the boarding school of the Music High school. As students we were living this bohemian life depicted in the opera. So I’m familiar with the French story! I care a lot about the part of Mimi as it brought me luck in all the theaters in the world. I sang at Vienna State Opera and Metropolitan shortly after the performance at Covent Garden. Tonight I was deeply moved that I had the chance to live in the true sense of the word. What I felt on stage it’s not a story anymore, it’s a fact!

How do you manage to freshen up the same role?
The performances always differ one from another because we, the artists, are different from a day to another. We have to face various situations, different partners. The production and the costumes always change. If having one hundred performances a day, at least one would be special. The tonight’s performances started with an adventure. The curtain refused to rise for half an hour. You see, it happens also in Covent Garden. (she laughs) Everybody was nervous. We were on the verge of singing the concert version.

You and your husband, the French tenor Roberto Alagna, came back singing on stage together after the announcement of the separation. The joy of reconciliation was marked by the audience with applauses.
I have to say that nothing original happens with my private life, not now, not in the future. The most important thing for both of us was that we were committed in finding resources to perform youth roles. Never in the history of opera did happen for singers to perform in the same production and same costumes. Honestly, when I tried the costumes with my name on the label I realized they fit perfectly. There were more than one Romanian and one Sicilian in the cast tonight. Marcello is also a Romanian, George Petean and Musetta was a Sicilian (she laughs).

You celebrate 20 years of sining on the great stages of the world. The society and the audience changed being influenced by the technology. Would the live opera performance survive technology?
I’m not for the productions that change history or subject. I love everything it's modern but I dislike things that ruin the style of music, the story or the plot to that extent that we need surtitles to understand what’s going on onstage. Would live opera survive technology? I’m sure of that. 20 years from now if you put down in your agenda a performance at Covent Garden, you’ll come!

A performance in a performance

A full house murmured Tuesday night when hearing the announcement of the management. “We apologize, for technical reasons the curtain is not working. You’ll whiteness a unique show only here, at Covent Garden!”. The applauses and typical English jokes replaced the silence. More than the first two acts of La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini took place in front of the audience: they could see how sets are changed and put in place. There were big emotions for the cast too. Soprano Angela Gheorghiu (Mimi) and tenor Roberto Alagna (Rodolfo) met again in a performance that marked 20 years from the debut on the stage in Covent Garden. The audience applauded after each duet.

Magnet for Romanians

“Brava” cheered one of the spectators, in a low, enthusiastic voice while people at the balcony dropped flowers on stage at the end of the performance when Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna came at curtain call holding hands. In the circular foyer of the Royal Opera House, with its walls covered in photos from famous performances, right in front of a black and white photo with Angela Gheorghiu in La Traviata, a group of Romanians were waiting for the soprano to come out for autographs.
20 years ago I could hardly meet a Romanian at a performance. Now they’re so many. I’m like a magnet for Romanians” she laughs, wearing a grey, waist stretched dress that makes her look like a ballerina. She hugs the fans one by one while thanking them for the red roses or the teddy bears she receives as gifts. There’s a private party and a cake waiting for her, marking her 20 years of international career.
Little to 1am, before living, she goes down to the backstage door to salute the fans that weren’t allowed in. Because as she likes to say, “After the show there’s always another show.

Today the second performance of La Boheme is taking place at Royal Opera House in London.


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La Boheme, behind the curtain

Scene change for act II. In front of the audience because of the broken curtain that caused that 30 minute delay at the beginning of the performance on June 19. We almost never get the chance to see what happens behind the curtain in those 5 minute break. This was an opportunity. And somebody filmed. It's interesting.


And two more curtain call videos


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The Times: "For as long as the passion remains and the flame is alight we will continue to sing"

Two days ago they were called "the Romeo and Juliette of opera". Today the same interviewer, Penny Marshall, entitles her article in The Times Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna: the Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of opera. Aham... she can't make up her mind. So what's next? Why do people love comparisons so much? These two are amazingly unique. As simple as that.

Thanks to the thoughtful sender of this article. Much appreciated!


"On her way," said the text simply, as an advance team warned us that the world's most famous diva was approaching, slowly climbing the Grand Staircase at the Royal Opera House, "But she is alone." Panic. "This won't work without both of them," I hiss to the press officer waiting with me, mindful that opera's most romantic couple are also known as opera's most temperamental team. I'd just seen them sing undying love to each other on stage in rehearsal for Puccini's La bohème, but that was an hour ago, and in the world of Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, that is long enough for a torrent of emotion, long enough for an act of real-life opera.

For anything is possible when it comes to opera's golden couple. Their romance off-stage has mirrored the operas they headline around the world, and their behaviour on-stage would occasionally have been better hidden in the wings. At stake today is not just my interview, but their emotional reunion singing La bohème at Covent Garden. Last night's performance, the first of two at the ROH, marks 20 years since the couple's voices were discovered, and their passion for each other was too — and two years since they split and swore they would never again sing together as long as they both still lived. Both performances have long been sold out. As the team reassures me not to read drama into Alagna's delay, Gheorghiu sweeps in alone with such elegant confidence I'm left wondering if it hasn't been choreographed.

She is immediately centre stage. All calm, commanding chic; svelte and immaculately controlled in a white tight-fitting dress with flat red pretty pumps. No killer heels. Her reputation suggests she doesn't need them. Divas don't often do small talk easily, but Gheorghiu seems genuinely interested when I tell her that I covered the Romanian revolution in 1989 as a journalist. Her eyes flame with passion, clearly at ease talking about things that matter, and one of them is her homeland. We talk of tyranny and freedom, and of the children who suffered under Ceausescu.

Gheorghiu was a music student in Bucharest at the time of the revolution, still the unknown daughter of a train driver and a dressmaker, but already in possession of the soprano voice that propelled her to worldwide fame. She leaves nothing to chance. She knows where she wants to sit for my TV interview, "This is my best side." She wants to know what excerpts from the rehearsal we filmed we will use, "I must know." And even her husband, when he does arrive, and we breathe a collective sigh of relief, has his anti-shine make-up carefully applied by her. His stage entrance was very different.

He's all breezy, Latin, spontaneous charm, with flowing locks. He's wearing a tight beige V-neck jumper with a nonchalant matching scarf, his manner easy. Like Gheorghiu his beginnings are humble: the son of Sicilian immigrants to Paris, a bricklayer and seamstress. He grew up with his grandmother's tales of his great grandfather who owned a shop in Manhattan's Little Italy, met Caruso and sung for the Mafia. He speaks English with a honeycomb French accent and has the charm of a hand-kissing romantic lead. It's hard to believe this is the only tenor in the history of La Scala to storm off stage while the orchestra was still playing after he was booed from the gods. "If the public whistles me, it does not deserve me," he'd said at the time. He was sacked — but he didn't seem to care.

Both these singers I am aware have a history of petulance and turbulence, so I proceed with caution. But they are candid when I ask them about their recent separation after more than a decade of marriage. "In every marriage you have ups and downs," she says, before he insists "It wasn't a real separation anyway — we spoke on the phone every day." But they announced it as more than that at the time and it caused headlines around the world, not least because the couple stopped singing together. But today they dismiss the rupture, as if it were the ordinary midlife crisis of a suburban couple. "After 40 years you start to feel like you have some crisis and you jump on it," Roberto says smiling. "We are normal people but we know now we are meant to be together. To be together to sing together and yes — probably to die together," he laughs. Alagna and Gheorgiou met 20 years ago at Covent Garden also performing in La bohème. It was love at first sight. But they were both married to other people and it wasn't until two years later that their relationship flourished, once again on stage in London in La traviata. By then Roberto's first wife had died tragically of a brain tumour. Even now, he told me, he finds singing Mimi's death scene in La bohème's final act heart-wrenching because of the memories it brings back of that loss. They were finally married in New York by its opera-loving mayor, Rudy Guiliani, in 1996. Together they have brought up Alagna's daughter from his first marriage and the daughter of Gheorghiu's sister and husband, who were killed in a car accident.

Their love is based on more than a shared love of opera. "I didn't marry Roberto to sing with him. They are two different parts of my life," says Angela, who admits that she actually finds dueting with him difficult at times because it intensifies the emotion of the performance. "When you sing with someone and you know each sound, each breath, every little detail, it's very, hard because you care so much about them, and about their performance as well as yours. It's simply exhausting."

He on the other hand tells me it's simply fabulous to sing with a woman he loves, that it's easier in fact to do so. They disagree gently about singing La bohème, but there are no fireworks. Perhaps they have settled down on the other side of their midlife crisis.

They seem gentler than billed, mellower too. He's 49, she's 46, and in London this week they were a couple celebrating an anniversary; a couple nostalgic for their youth, for the Bohème of 1992 where they first met as singers new to London. He admits to being a little embarrassed to be reprising the role of Rodolfo in middle age. He thinks Bohème is a young person's opera, and that its enduring power lies in the way it captures youth.

Mimi's death, he says is forever tragic because it marks the end of youthful innocence. "Singing Bohème for us now gives us the illusion of being young," he says. "And it's very difficult at our age to sing. You must be fresh and full of hope for the future. When your story is behind you, it's difficult to manage that."

They both have plans to sing again at Covent Garden separately and soon. She in Puccini's La rondine in summer next year and he in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in November". I pray to God I keep my voice," she says quietly. "For as long as the passion remains and the flame is alight we will continue to sing."


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More from La Boheme on June 19 - PHOTOS

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna in La Boheme at Royal Opera House, June 19
Source: A's FB fan page
More photos on Angela's Facebook fan page

On the occasion of this event, the Romanian TV station Antena 1 produced a short piece for the 7pm News yesterday

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La Boheme, June 19, curtain call VIDEO


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La Boheme @ROH - VIDEO

Source: ITV News
Short & lovely footage from the rehearsal of La Boheme at Royal Opera House a few days ago + interview (1 minute only considering that the tv crew went to ROH, wired up all that gear? Don't get it. She had both of them there but she preferred writing a long (with small mistakes here and there and with a less inspired title) article rather than using the footage shot. Hmm... Maybe it's just me...)

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La Boheme, as it sounded back then

I wish I had the ROH 1992 performance. Still looking for it.

But I have the April 13, 1996 Met performance of La Boheme. Pretty close. In house recording with excellent sound. 

Angela Gheorghiu as Mimi
Roberto Alagna as Rodolfo
Karita Mattila as Musetta
William Shimell as Marcello

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by Simone Young

Here you have some fragments.

The ending of the first act - Si, mi chiamano Mimi... O soave fanciulla...

and the second part of my-all-time-favorite third act Donde lieta usci.... Dunque e proprio finita...

Tonight there's the first of the two La Boheme at Royal Opera House. Thinking of you!


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La Boheme @ROH, 20 years after

This week's Something I like is not a video, but a photo.

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna
Found it on the internet. I won't put all my bets on this, but it should be from ROH's 1992 performance of La Boheme. May 16, 1992, to be more precise. Is it? 
Which brings me to the long waited, sold out  performances of the same opera starring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna at Royal Opera House next week (June 19 and June 23), celebrating 20 years from the first one.

The production is a classical, premiered at ROH on February 6, 1974 with Katia Ricciarelli as Mimi and Placido Domingo as Rodolfo. It was produced by John Copley. Over the years many other brushed it up a little bit. This production had 112 performances mentioned in the Archives of the Royal Opera House that stops in 2010.

This production had a grandma, the one premiered on October 15, 1948. Back then Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was Mimi and Rudolf Schock was Rodolfo. 

Coming back to the present times, Angela Gheorghiu is Mimi, Roberto Alagna is Rodolfo, Nuccia Focile is Musetta and George Petean is Marcello. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House is conducted by Jacques Lacombe (replacing the previously announced Maurizio Benini). If you haven't bought your ticket yet, keep on trying as returns come and go. And there's always the day queue.

Have fun everybody. Remember that somebody out there is waiting for your texts. Don't by shy :)

Sunny weekend and safe flight/journey to all those traveling to London! 


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Angela Gheorghiu, Artist for Peace at Tuscan Sun Festival

Angela Gheorghiu and Saimir Pirgu, concert at Tuscan Sun Festival, Florence, June 12
Photo @Mediafax
On the occasion of this concert Angela Gheorghiu received the designation as a UNESCO "Artist for Peace", informs the artist's management for the Romanian press agency Mediafax.



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The Tuscan Sun

Photo @ Umberto Visintini/New Press Photo
Florence, June 11, 2012
Firenze 12 giugno 2012 - Al via oggi la decima edizione del Tuscan Sun Festival che, per il primo anno debutta a Firenze. Quest’anno ritorna al Festival, dopo lo straordinario successo ottenuto nell’edizione del 2009, la strepitosa Angela Gheorghiu che, insieme al virtuoso e pluripremiato giovane tenore Saimir Pirgu sarà la protagonista del Concerto di Gala di martedì 12 giugno al Teatro della Pergola di Firenze. (via La Nazione)

A word in this article reminded me of a night one year ago at the backstage of Royal Opera House. There was an Italian fan waiting for Angela. He talked to us a lot. But when she came out all he could say was "sei strepitosa", over and over and over again. I asked THE Italian that is always close to Angela when she's at ROH what "strepitosa" meant. He looked at her and started moving his hands in all directions saying "ma dai, ma dai....". "Ok man, a word. I understand that the fan can't utter anything else. But can do it" "it means.. amazing, outstanding, stunning, beautiful" "Got it. one word was enough. I got it. Now you can keep moving your hands". He was soooo funny.

Back to the Festival, according to the TSF official website the concert is taking place at Teatro Pergola and this is the program

Angela Gheorghiu, soprano
Saimir Pirgu, tenor
Eugene Kohn, conductor 
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail - Sinfonia 
Handel: Rinaldo – Aria of  Almirena ‘Lascia ch'io pianga’ 
Verdi: La Traviata - Duet of Violetta and Alfredo ‘Parigi, o cara’ 
Massenet: Werther – Aria of Werther ‘Pourquoi me réveiller’    
Berlioz: Ouverture du Corsaire   
Gounod: Romeo et Juliette - Duet of Juliette and Romeo ‘Va! je t'ai pardonné’   


Mascagni: Le maschere - Sinfonìa  
Catalani: La Wally - Aria of Wally 'Ebben? Ne andrò lontana
De Curtis: Duet ‘Non ti scordar di me
Bernstein: West Side Story – Aria of Tony ‘Maria’  
Loewe: My Fair Lady – Aria of  Eliza Doolittle ‘I Could Have Danced All Night
Ponchielli: La gioconda - La danza delle ore
Puccini: La bohéme  - Duet of Mimi and Rodolfo ‘O soave fanciulla’ 


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Something I like. THE concert in NY, 2008

These two videos are part of the concert starring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna that took place in Prospect Park, New York in June 2008. Ion Marin is conducting the Metropolitan Orchestra. 

I've been listening to this concert tens of times since I got the audio recording some years ago. There's no flight without it. Music comes and goes on the iPod, this one stays. Because of the arias and duets rarely encountered in other concerts, the energy and joy that gives me.

Imagine the excitement when I found the concert online. There are many more videos from this concert posted on Angela's official website, in Gallery - Videos section. Check them out!

Angela Gheorghiu - Caruso

Angela Gheorghiu/Roberto Alagna - Lucia di Lammermour - Verranno a te

Have a sunny weekend, wherever you are!


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Re-braodcasting: "Profil, poveste, personaj" interview. TVR Cultural, June 8

If you missed the interview Angela Gheorghiu gave to Marius Constantinescu for "Profil, poveste, personal" first time (in 2009) or second time (the rebroadcasting in 2011), here's your third chance to see it. One of her best interviews in Romania, in my opinion, for the questions, the openness, the straightness, the fluency, the emotions.

TVR Cultural scheduled the first part tomorrow evening (Friday, June 8) at 9:50pm (GMT+2). The second part will be broadcast next week, same day, same time.

Back then in 2009 I translated the interview into English (bad habits die hard. or never die :). There are three parts: one, two and three.  

Enjoy watching and/or reading!


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Angela Gheorghiu joins World Orchestra for Peace in Chicago, October 21

A press release issued by Chicago Symphony Orchestra states:

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is pleased to announce that soprano Angela Gheorghiu will join the World Orchestra for Peace as soloist in its Symphony Center Presents Orchestra series appearance on Sunday, October 21, 2012, at 1:15 p.m.

Sir Georg Solti 100th Birthday Concert
World Orchestra for Peace
Valery Gergiev, conductor
Angela Gheorghiu, soprano
René Pape, bass
Lady Solti, host
Alumni of the Solti Accademia and Solti Foundation US
Past and Present Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 

MOZART Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
MOZART and VERDI Selected Arias and Ensembles
MAHLER Adagietto from Symphony No. 5
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra

So, back to Chicago. Great! Waiting for the official confirmation.
According to CSO website, the tickets go on sale on August 10.


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Angela Gheorghiu to perform in La Boheme in Korea

I came across a twitter post and this photo. The post says (in Korean, but Google gave the approximate translation):

Korea's first opera La Boheme in an outdoor amphitheater! Myung-Whun Chung, conductor in charge. Two world-class singers are starring, Angela Gheorghiu and Vittorio Grigolo. Open-air theater of Yonsei University Aug.28/30, Sept.1 / 2

Zooming in the photo, there are two more names for Mimi&Rodolfo, Fiorenza Cedolins and Marcello Giordani. Who.. when.. TBA
Now waiting for the official confirmation.


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Martha @71

"Again Martha?" you might  say. Yes, again and again. YouTube is an endless spring of videos that put together reveal her entire career. An impressive and lasting one. She'll be 71 on June 5 and she's still playing. Happy birthday and long life ahead!

Last nigh I found the entire Rachmaninov Piano Concert §3 uploaded on YT. I thought to share it. If Santa asked me what I want, I'd say "wanna listen to Martha live again". Not that I haven't tried in the past years. But she's very unpredictable regarding cancellations. Someday...


Rachmaninov §3 - back in the 70s, Martha Argerich and Riccardo Chailly


Ravel's "Mother goose" - Martha Argerich and Lang Lang, performing together at the beginning of this year

And of course my favorite video, her 1966 performance of Chopin's Polonaise N°6


Have a great weekend!


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