The Life You Give: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau *1925

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, born May 28, 1925, in Berlin, Germany, was an operatic baritone and preeminent singer of lieder, distinguished for his lyrical voice, commanding presence, and superb artistry. Fischer-Dieskau studied with Georg Walter before serving in World War II and with Hermann Weissenborn afterward. In 1947 he made his concert debut in Johannes Brahms’s Ein… Continue reading The Life You Give: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau *1925

The Life You Give: Teresa Stratas *1938

Stratas was one of the controversial stars of the latter half of the twentieth century, and one whose personality and life, like that of Callas, another great soprano of Greek descent, are inextricably linked with her performances in the minds of many members of the public. Also like Callas, she had a special magnetism as… Continue reading The Life You Give: Teresa Stratas *1938

The Life You Give: Richard Wagner *1813

Richard Wagner, born Wilhelm Richard Wagner, on May 22, 1813, in Leipzig, Germany, is the dramatic composer and theorist whose operas and music had a revolutionary influence on the course of Western music, either by extension of his discoveries or reaction against them. Among his major works are The Flying Dutchman (1843), Tannhäuser (1845), Lohengrin… Continue reading The Life You Give: Richard Wagner *1813

The Life You Give: Claudio Monteverdi *1567

Claudio Monteverdi, baptized May 15, 1567, Cremona, Duchy of Milan [Italy], is the composer in the late Renaissance, seen as most important developer of the then new genre, the opera. He also did much to bring a “modern” secular spirit into church music.Monteverdi, the son of a barber-surgeon and chemist, studied with the director of… Continue reading The Life You Give: Claudio Monteverdi *1567

The Life You Give: Peter Tchaikovsky *1840

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, also spelled Chaikovsky, Chaikovskii, or Tschaikowsky, born April 25 [May 7, New Style], 1840, in Votkinsk, Russia, is the most popular Russian composer of all time. His music has always had great appeal for the general public in virtue of its tuneful, open-hearted melodies, impressive harmonies, and colourful, picturesque orchestration, all of… Continue reading The Life You Give: Peter Tchaikovsky *1840

The Life You Give: Valery Gergiev *1953

Valery Gergiev, born May 2, 1953, Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R., is a conductor, known for his charismatic stage presence and passionate performances, who became artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre (previously called Kirov Theatre) in St. Petersburg in 1996.Gergiev was the son of Ossetian parents and spent much of his youth in the Caucasus.… Continue reading The Life You Give: Valery Gergiev *1953

The Life You Give: Alessandro Scarlatti *1660

Alessandro Scarlatti, born Pietro Alessandro Gaspare Scarlatti, May 2, 1660, Palermo, Sicily, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies [now in Italy], was a composer of operas and religious works.Scarlatti was sent to Rome at about the age of 12; there he met Bernardo Pasquini, by whom he was greatly influenced. The first of his 115 operas,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Alessandro Scarlatti *1660

Roméo et Juliette (Gounod), premiered on April 27 1867

Roméo et JulietteTragic Opera in five actsComposer - Charles GounodLibretto - Jules Barbier und Michel CarréLanguage - FrenchBased on - Romeo and Julia, William ShakespearePremiere - 27. April 1867, Théatre Lyrique, ParisLength - 2 ½ hours Roles: Juliette - soprano Roméo, son of Montague - tenor Frère Laurent - bass Mercutio, Romeo's friend - baritone… Continue reading Roméo et Juliette (Gounod), premiered on April 27 1867

“Turandot” (Puccini) premiered today in 1926

Composer: Giacomo PucciniLibretto: Giuseppe Adami, Renato SimoniWorld premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, April 1926. Principal roles:Princess Turandot - sopranoThe Emperor Altoum, her father - tenor Timur, the deposed King of Tartary - bass The Unknown Prince (Calaf), his son -- tenor Liù, a slave girl --- sopranoACT IPeking, in the mythic past. Outside the Imperial… Continue reading “Turandot” (Puccini) premiered today in 1926

The Life You Give: Sergey Prokofiev *1891

Sergey Prokofiev, born Sergey Sergeyevich Prokofiev, on April 23 1891, in Sontsovka, Ukraine, is the composer who wrote in a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces.Prokofiev (Prokofjev in the transliteration system of the Russian Academy of Sciences) was born into a family of agriculturalists. Village life,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Sergey Prokofiev *1891

The Life You Give: Ethel Smyth *1858

Dame Ethel Smyth, born Ethel Mary Smyth, on April 22, 1858, in London, is the composer whose work was notably eclectic, ranging from conventional to experimental.Born into a military family, Smyth studied at the Leipzig Conservatory and was encouraged by Johannes Brahms and Antonín Dvořák. She first gained notice with her sweeping Mass in D… Continue reading The Life You Give: Ethel Smyth *1858

The Life You Give: Herbert von Karajan *1908

Herbert von Karajan, born April 5, 1908, in Salzburg, Austria, is the orchestra and opera conductor who was a leading international musical figure of the mid-20th century.A child prodigy on the piano, Karajan studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He made his professional conducting debut in 1929 at Salzburg, and he was appointed to a… Continue reading The Life You Give: Herbert von Karajan *1908

The Life You Give: Shirley Verrett *March 31 1931

Shirley Verrett was one of America's finest opera stars and recital singers, and was one of the remarkable generation of great African-American singers who came to international prominence in the 1950s and 1960s.She studied voice in Los Angeles with Anna Fitziu and Hall Johnson. In 1955, she won the nationally broadcast CBS program Arthur Godfrey's… Continue reading The Life You Give: Shirley Verrett *March 31 1931

The Life You Give: Béla Bartók *March 25 1881

Béla Bartók, Hungarian form Bartók Béla, (born March 25, 1881, Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary, Austria-Hungary [now Sânnicolau Mare, Romania]—died September 26, 1945, New York, NewYork, U.S.), Hungarian composer, pianist, ethnomusicologist, and teacher, noted for the Hungarian flavour of his major musical works, which include orchestral works, string quartets, piano solos, several stage works, a cantata, and a… Continue reading The Life You Give: Béla Bartók *March 25 1881

The Life You Give: Dolora Zajick *March 24 1952

Dolora Zajick (ZAH-chik) is among the world's leading dramatic mezzo-sopranos, unsurpassed in Verdi's mezzo roles. Birgit Nilsson in 1991 stated that "Zajick's voice is the only one existing today without any competition in the world." She comes from a large family of Czech descent. As a pre-medical student at the University of Nevada, she took… Continue reading The Life You Give: Dolora Zajick *March 24 1952

The Life You Give: Modest Mussorgsky *1839

Modest Mussorgsky, born Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, on March 9 [March 21, New Style], 1839, in Karevo, Russia, was the composer noted particularly for his opera Boris Godunov (final version first performed 1874), his songs, and his piano piece Pictures from an Exhibition (1874). Mussorgsky, along with Aleksandr Borodin, Mily Balakirev, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, and César Cui,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Modest Mussorgsky *1839

The Life You Give: Bernd Alois Zimmermann *1918

One of the most important German composers to emerge during the post-World War II era, Bernd Alois Zimmermann was born in the outskirts of Cologne in 1918. His schooling at the Cologne Musikhochschule was interrupted when he was drafted for military service in the early days of the Second World War. Discharged in 1942, Zimmermann… Continue reading The Life You Give: Bernd Alois Zimmermann *1918

The Life You Give: Christa Ludwig *1928

Christa Ludwig was one of the most admired mezzo-sopranos of her generation, with a wide repertoire of both lieder and opera. She brought a fine sense of musicianship as well as drama to her performances. Her roles ranged from Dorabella in Così fan Tutte to Brangane in Tristan und Isolde and Clytemnestra in Elektra, and… Continue reading The Life You Give: Christa Ludwig *1928

The Counter Tenor

Iestyn Davies is one of today’s most in-demand singers. And unusually for a top opera star, he’s a countertenor. We spoke to him about his unusual voice type in a beautiful 18th-century house in SpitalfieldsFirst things first: what is a countertenor?One question I'm often asked is “how high do you go?” Because people when they… Continue reading The Counter Tenor