"Silent Night," an opera by Kevin Puts that dramatizes a miraculous ceasefire during World War I, has won the Pulitzer Prize for music. The opera, with a libretto by Mark Campbell, received its world-premiere production at Minnesota Opera in November.
Puts' opera is adapted from the 2005 movie "Joyeux Noël," which was nominated for an Academy Award for foreign-language film. Like the movie, the opera depicts an unexpected truce negotiated by Scottish, French and German officers on Christmas Eve. The movie was written and directed by Christian Carion.
"Silent Night" won the Pulitzer over finalists "Death and the Powers," an opera by Tod Machover, and "The Companion Guide to Rome," a piece for string trio by Andrew Norman that evokes nine Roman churches. Norman is an alumnus of the University of Southern California and has been named a resident composer for the L.A. Chamber Orchestra.
Movie: “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman” (2008) 6 and 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sundance: Narrated by Dustin Hoffman. Photographer Julius Shulman helps bring architecture's Modernist movement to the forefront and collaborates with architect Richard Neutra and others on many important projects.
“SoCal Insider With Rick Reiff” 1 p.m. Thursday; 7 p.m. Friday; 11:30 a.m. Sunday, KOCE; noon Wednesday, KOCE: Opera legend Placido Domingo.
“Exploring the Arts With Gloria Greer” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, KVCR: Jackie Autry's Private Collection.
“Open Call” 9 p.m. Thursday, KCET: Colburn School Orchestra. Hosted by mezzo-soprano opera singer Suzanna Guzman.
“Orchestra Kids 2011” 10:30 p.m. Thursday, KCET: Behind the scenes with the All Schools Elementary Honor Orchestra as it prepares for its annual concert in renowned Schoenberg Concert Hall in UCLA. “SoCal Connected” 9 p.m. Friday; 6 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, KCET: Herbie Hancock: All That's Jazz: Correspondent Michael Okwu shares what it was like to spend time with jazz artist Herbie Hancock.
“Santa Monica On Stage” 8 p.m. Friday, City TV Channel 16, Santa Monica: Barbara Bain ("Why We Have A Body"). Writer Rex Pickett and director Amelia Mulkey ("Sideways, The Play").
“Art in the Twenty-First Century” 10 p.m. Friday, KOCE: Change: Artists Ai Weiwei, El Anatsui and Catherine Opie. (Season Premiere)
“Dudu Fisher: In Concert From Israel” 1:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. Wednesday, KCET: Dudu Fisher performs Broadway tunes and Israeli songs.
“Laguna Beach Live Presents: Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble With Calder Quartet” 11 p.m. Saturday, KOCE: The Jazz Chamber Ensemble is a synthesis of jazz and classical chamber music.
With Peter Dinklage proving there's no height requirement for leading men with his Emmy-winning turn as Tyrion in HBO's "Game of Thrones," German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff recently walked away from a odds-defying career of his own when the thalidomide-damaged singer announced his retirement at 52.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, Quasthoff spoke frankly about his reasons for retirement -- a mix of grief at the death of his brother and a recent battle with laryngitis -- and his response to what a colleague once called his "cripple bonus," a sort of preferential treatment afforded him as a result of his physical deformities.
"I think I kept my cool and simply replied: 'Well, you had the chance to beat me, but it wasn't quite enough,'" Quasthoff said, who stands at just over 4 feet, 3 inches. "Today, I can say in all honesty that there was certainly a bonus for being disabled.
The Metropolitan Opera is in full "Ring" mode this month as it prepares to launch the complete staging of its new, multi-million dollar production of Wagner's four-part epic, directed by Robert Lepage.
No matter where you go in the opera world, a new "Ring" cycle production is bound to provoke heated debate and wildly divergent opinions. New York has proved to be no exception.
Lepage's production -- which features a 45-ton mechanical set of rotating planks -- has garnered some negative, even scathing reviews. Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker, wrote that the Met's staging is "the most witless and wasteful production in modern operatic history." Justin Davidson of New York magazine has described Lepage's staging as virtuosic, but noted that his talent "does not extend to humans... he leaves an interpretive void at the opera's core."
The New York Times' Anthony Tommasini has repeatedly criticized Lepage's monstrous set of moving planks, writing that it often distracts from the music and the story. He has noted that the set has experienced its share of technical problems as the four operas have had their individual premieres.
This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.
Through more than 40 years as a set and costume designer, UCLA professor Robert Israel has often been called upon to help instill sorrow, tension and dread in opera-goers and theater and dance audiences.
But perhaps his biggest and most palpably enduring project, to be unveiled next month in Baltimore, aims for just the opposite effect. Returning to sculpture for the first time since 1968, Israel has created 11 giant, colorful pieces designed to cheer sick or injured children and their families.
The sculptures will debut April 12 at the dedication of the new $1.1-billion Johns Hopkins Hospital, where 500 artworks have been commissioned from more than 70 artists. Israel's are in the 205-bed pediatric wing, the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center.
His past credits include Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” Verdi’s “Macbeth” and operas by Philip Glass. His previous creation in Baltimore was the set for a 2005 production of “King Lear” at Baltimore Center Stage.
Now comes his cow who jumped over the moon -– and other fanciful, brightly colored works. Hanging in the atrium of the children’s wing is Israel’s 22-foot-tall, muliticolored ostrich made of fiberlglass, its big blue egg deposited on a counter below. A school of yellow puffer fish (pictured) swims in air above a central staircase, and a 20-foot-high aluminum baby rhino grazes outside the building’s glass facade. The flying cow with the purple, Lego-like body, yellow head and nine-foot wing span (pictured) soars above an information desk, intent on vaulting a ring of 28 orange and brown moons.
The Metropolitan Opera in New York announced the winners of its annual National Council Auditions on Sunday, and among the honorees is a young singer who has strong ties to Los Angeles.
Soprano Janai Brugger is currently enrolled in L.A. Opera's Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program and is set to play the role of Musetta in the company's production of Puccini's "La Bohème," opening May 12. The 29-year-old singer hails from Illinois and has appeared in productions at Palm Beach Opera and the Ravinia Festival.
Brugger also performed in L.A. Opera's recent productions of "The Marriage of Figaro" and "Rigoletto."
The Met's National Council Auditions is the leading opera competition in the country for young artists. The company said close to 1,500 singers between the ages of 20 and 30 participated in this year's auditions.
This year's roster of winners also includes Anthony Clark Evans, Matthew Grills, Margaret Mezzacappa and Andrey Nemzer.
Each winner receives a cash prize of $15,000. Past winners who have gone on to international fame include Jessye Norman, Renee Fleming, Deborah Voigt and Susan Graham.
Aficionados of big voices have been waiting for Christine Brewer to appear in a Los Angeles Opera production for a long time. Indeed, there were a couple of occasions where she was dangled tantalizingly before us, singing song recitals somewhere in town while Wagner’s “Ring” operas -- her natural habitat -- were playing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
But Brewer’s LA Opera debut finally came Wednesday night in a most unorthodox way -- slipping into the cast of Britten’s chamber opera “Albert Herring” toward the end of its run. That’s right -- a chamber opera, and a comedy at that, written for an ensemble cast of equals.
Fortunately, Brewer’s part -- that of the lordly arbiter of small-town morals, Lady Billows (which she sang in the Santa Fe edition of this production in 2010) -- can sort of lend itself to a Wagnerian soprano. Britten used one, Sylvia Fisher, on his own recording of “Herring.”
"SoCal Insider With Rick Reiff" 7:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m., Sunday, KOCE: "Greatest Living Tenor": Interview with opera legend Placido Domingo.
"The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies" 8 p.m. Friday, KLCS: Alexander meets and auditions four pianists age 8 to 12.
"Great Performances" 8:30 p.m. Friday; 12:30 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m., Wednesday, KOCE: "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Royal Albert Hall : Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess star in a fully-staged production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera," from London's Royal Albert Hall.
"Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" 12:37 a.m. Friday, NBC: Actor Paul Rudd; actress Gabrielle Union; performance from "Sister Act."
"The Voice" 4 p.m. Saturday, E!: The Blind Auditions, Part 5 : More vocalists audition for the judges. (Part 5 of 5)
"Il Volo Takes Flight" 5:30 p.m. Saturday, KOCE: The Italian teen vocal group performs classical and traditional Italian songs at the Detroit Opera House.
"The Artist Toolbox" 8:30 p.m. Saturday, KLCS: American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky discuss the rigors of being a professional dancer.
"Yanni -- Live at El Morro" 9 p.m. Saturday, KOCE: Yanni performs with his 15-piece orchestra at El Morro, a 16th-century citadel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"Oscar Hammerstein II -- Out of My Dreams" 7 p.m. Sunday, KOCE; 8:30 p.m. Sunday, KVCR: Lyricist and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II worked in theater for more than 40 years, writing lyrics to more than 1,000 songs and the books of 45 operettas and musicals.
"Idina Menzel Live -- Barefoot at the Symphony" 8:30 p.m. Sunday, KOCE: Menzel performs Broadway classics, her own selections and contemporary songs with Taye Diggs and composer Marvin Hamlisch.
Gioachino Rossini, honoree -- along with leap year -- of a Google Doodle today, had a couple of things in common with Justin Bieber: early musical talent, recognized by his parents, and early adoration.
True, Rossini was apparently no drummer, but by 6 he was playing with his father's musical group ... on the triangle. Yes, things got more impressive from there.
In 1813, at age 20, Rossini already had gained international fame with his operas -- which was more exciting at the time because the art form had a much larger number of fans. Italian opera was "extremely fashionable" in the early 19th century, according to the Victoria and Albert Museum -- which notes the art form did get its share of ribbing, with one critic likening it to "a plate of macaroni" because it could be "absorbed without any real effort" by those in the audience.
Despite that wet blanket, Rossini, along with Donizetti and Bellini, flourished, creating operas that are still popular today. It was "Tancredi" and "L'italiana in Algeri" ("The Italian Girl in Algiers") that put young Rossini over the top. Some songs from "Tancredi" were so popular, Italians would stand around in law court, singing the melodies in crowds, until the judge would tell them to cut it out.
The musical composer, born Feb. 29, 1792, in Pesaro, Italy, was the son of the "town trumpeter and inspector of slaughterhouses," according to the Notable Names Database. Other sources are kinder, saying Rossini was born to "musical parents" who performed in regional theater. They sent him for harpsichord lessons, but Gioachino -- a smart kid who already had standards -- told them that his teacher, Prinetti of Navara, played the harpsichord with two fingers and fell asleep during lessons.
Rossini eventually landed at the Conservatory at Bologna, where he studied cello and was known as a huge fan of Mozart.
Some sources indicate that, with his early success, Rossini stirred up some resentment among other Italian composers. He is described, in one account, "in the fulness of fame" as being "robust, hearty, vigorous and one of the bon vivants of Bologna la Grassa." Critics apparently couldn't resist taking a few pokes. At one time, he even was given the nickname "Signor Crescendo."
Rossini had the last laugh, though. He wrote more than 30 operas, plus sacred music and chamber works. He created the classic "The Barber of Seville" -- said by many to be the most popular comic opera of all time -- and "William Tell," for which "The Lone Ranger" will forever be grateful.
It looks as if Los Angeles Opera's production of "Simon Boccanegra" will be the last opportunity in the U.S. to see Plácido Domingo perform the Verdi opera for the foreseeable future. A concert version of the opera that was scheduled for March at New York's Lincoln Center has been abruptly called off due to financial problems by the presenting company.
The company in question is the Opera Orchestra of New York, a mid-sized group that specializes in concert performances of operas with major singers. On Friday, the company issued a statement saying that a donor had withdrawn a $250,000 pledge, which led company leaders to pull the plug on the March 7 concert at Avery Fisher Hall.
Norman Raben, chairman of the Opera Orchestra's board, said in the statement that "we have a mandate to be fiscally responsible, and with the loss of funding for this production we were given no choice but to cancel the concert."
Domingo is performing "Boccanegra" at L.A. Opera though March 4. He has already performed the role in New York, London, Berlin and Milan. The opera offers a rare chance to see the renowned tenor in a baritone role.
In May, Domingo is scheduled to perform "Boccanegra" again in Berlin.