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Home > Author Archives: Christian Ocier

Author Archives: Christian Ocier

Killer queen

Killer queen

Killer queen Although the opera’s technical demands make its staged appearances sparser than the composer’s more popular comic works, a great interpretation of Semiramide is rewarding for pairing an at times absurd but layered libretto with some of the composer’s most revolutionary music. Among Rossini’s opere serie, Semiramide is most distinguished for distilling the many intelligently evolved ideas that the composer discovered since he embarked on major artistic successes with Tancredi. Despite this opera’s trove ... Read More »

“I am finding my way as I go”: speaking with Speranza Scappucci

“I am finding my way as I go”: speaking with Speranza Scappucci

“I am finding my way as I go”: speaking with Speranza Scappucci The Italian opera tradition is rightly celebrated as a vehicle for demonstrating the expressive capacity and technical facility of the human voice. Indeed, few things are more thrilling in opera than hearing an exquisitely sculpted, sometimes dazzling, and emotionally febrile vocal line crafted by masters spanning the chronology from Rossini and Donizetti to Verdi and Puccini. However, the power of this genre is ... Read More »

Wien disposition

Wien disposition

Wien disposition Following classic recordings documenting the work of Karl Böhm and Herbert von Karajan. Orfeo’s 150 Years Wiener Staatsoper box moves on to new releases that are seeing their first incarnation on an officially available disc. Although some of these operas can be sourced from pirate companies, Orfeo’s excellent remastering and pristine sound broadens the spatial dimension and the aural experience, even from those broadcasts that originate from the last decade. From 1988, one hears Vienna’s ... Read More »

Wien to me

Wien to me

Wien to me In his memoir The World of Yesterday, the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig painted a vivid portrait of the musically febrile Vienna of his youth, recounting with literary flair the Viennese’s exacting obsession over opera and its myriad strata of detail. Sifting through Zweig’s charming collection of memories, one can find humor in the mania audiences expressed over the fading bars of a Beethoven quartet, or the peculiar way its citizenry would collectively ... Read More »

Eventide

Eventide

Eventide My thoughts turned to Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop as the setting sun bathed New Mexico’s Sangre di Cristo Mountains in a reddish ochre. These breathtaking vistas—a play between scattered evening light and a landscape conjured from Cather’s lyrical pen—carried a musicality and poetry that provided an inviting prologue for the dramas that grace Santa Fe Opera’s open auditorium. To any operagoer largely inured to the walled spaces of traditional theaters, Santa Fe’s unique desert ... Read More »

The journey is the destination

The journey is the destination

The journey is the destination Franz Schubert and Wilhelm Müller’s Winterreise arguably stands at the pinnacle of the lieder recitalist’s oeuvre. When performed beautifully, this intimate and psychologically probing song cycle invokes awe for drawing so much out of a singer’s musicality and interpretive range. In its entirety, these 24 poems on unrequited love comprise a dramatic narrative that can evoke as much emotional depth and power as tragic opera. Winterreise has fortunately accumulated a ... Read More »

It’s the Minnesinger not the song

It’s the Minnesinger not the song

It’s the Minnesinger not the song Until Tobias Kratzer’s new production of Tannhäuser opens this summer, the second of Wagner’s canonical dramas had been directed only six times since the Bayreuth Festival’s reinauguration in 1951. As a centerpiece of Wagner’s theatrically inclined institution, this makes Tannhäuser lag behind the Ring (seen in 11 different incarnations since Wieland’s revolutionary Neo-Bayreuth production), Lohengrin (eight productions, the most recent of which was spearheaded by Yuval Sharon last summer), and all the other ... Read More »

Putting it together

Putting it together

Putting it together The Chicago Symphony Orchestra continued its storied tradition of presenting operas in concert with a luxuriously cast and immaculately played reading of  Aida, led in these June 2019 concerts by CSO music director Riccardo Muti. The maestro has championed Verdi’s great dramas as the crown jewels of his now decade-long tenure with the orchestra (prior to Aida, the CSO had mounted exceptionally cast performances of Otello, Macbeth, and Falstaff). In this Aida, ... Read More »

What we do in the shadows

What we do in the shadows

What we do in the shadows The Wiener Staatsoper commemorated its 150th anniversary with a musically sensational presentation of Richard Strauss’ Die Frau Ohne Schatten—an opera that incidentally celebrates its centenary later this October.  Christian Thielemann, our era’s preeminent master of the Straussian idiom, conducted the Staatsoper orchestra in a mesmerizing reading of the composer’s neo-Wagnerian fantasy. Under his brilliant direction, Strauss’ tonally polymorphic orchestration emerges with silken, chamber-like textures, with instrumental voices carefully modulated to ... Read More »

Upon arrival

Upon arrival

Upon arrival Lise Davidsen, the young Norwegian soprano who won the Operalia competition in 2015, makes her debut as a recording artist with the Decca label in a new recital of Wagner and Strauss arias and orchestral songs.  Accompanied by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Davidsen here wields a dramatic instrument of arresting power and beauty in music that complements her prodigious gifts. This new album marks an important milestone in this young artist’s ... Read More »

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