Monthly Archives: April 2011

der ring ist mein!

Or at least the tickets to it are.


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peter lieberson (1946-2011)

More sad news this morning.

American composer Peter Lieberson died in Israel while undergoing treatment for lymphoma. He was 64.

Lieberson is perhaps best known for the 2005 cycle of five songs on Neruda poems dedicated to and premiered by his wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who passed away in 2006 after a long battle with breast cancer. Her recording of the set with the Boston Symphony won a Grammy in 2008 for Best Classical Vocal Performance.



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erbarme dich

‎”Have mercy, O Lord, for the sake of my tears. Look at me – heart and eye are weeping bitterly for you. Have mercy.”


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old friends

Thank you, Stephen Sondheim. I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.

Hey, old friends,
How do we stay old friends?
Who is to say, old friends,
How an old friendship survives?
One day chums
Having a laugh a minute,
One day comes
And they’re a part of your lives.

New friends pour
Through the revolving door —
Maybe there’s one that’s more.
If you find one, that’ll do.
But us, old friends,
What’s to discuss, old friends?
Here’s to us!
Who’s like us?

Two old friends,
Fewer won’t do, old friends —
Gotta have two old friends
Helping you balance along:
One upbraids you
For your faults and fancies,
One persuades you
That the other one’s wrong.

Most friends fade
Or they don’t make the grade.
New ones are quickly made,
Perfect as long as they’re new.
But us, old friends,
What’s to discuss, old friends?
Here’s to us!
Who’s like us?
Damn few!

Merrily We Roll Along (1981)

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daniel catán (1949-2011)

I note this morning the death on Friday of Mexican composer Daniel Catán, whose most recent stage work, Il Postino, based on the 1994 Oscar-winning film, debuted last year at the Los Angeles Opera with Plácido Domingo as Pablo Neruda and Charles Castronovo as the shy young postman who befriends the poet.

Details of  Catán’s passing are still kind of sketchy, but I’ll try to post more as they become available.

Here’s a brief biography of the composer from the website of his publisher, G. Schirmer:

Daniel Catán’s lyrical, romantic style lends itself particularly well to the human voice, which features in the majority of his works. Lush orchestrations reminiscent of Debussy and Strauss along with Latin American instruments and rhythms are regularly heard in his music. His opera Florencia en el Amazonas has the distinction of being the first opera in Spanish commissioned by a major American company. The success of this opera led to the commission of Salsipuedes for Houston Grand Opera. His fourth opera, Il Postino, was commissioned by Los Angeles Opera and premiered in Los Angeles, Vienna and Paris in 2011 featuring Plácido Domingo. Catán is currently at work on his next opera Meet John Doe which premieres in 2012. Born in Mexico, Catán studied philosophy at the University of Sussex in England before enrolling in Princeton as a PhD student in composition under the tuition of Milton Babbitt, James Randall and Benjamin Boretz.

UPDATE: Obituaries and tributes started appearing not long after I first posted here, including this appreciation from Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times, which offers some insight into what Catán hoped to communicate through his music.

I also received the following email from David Ashley White, director of the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, which I’ll pass on in its entirety.

Please be sure to note in future messages that at the time of his death, Mr. Catán’s Il Postino was being performed by the Moores Opera Center, Moores School of Music, University of Houston.  He was scheduled to be with us Saturday and Sunday for two of the four performances.  He made special arrangements with Placido Domingo for us to produce the opera so soon after its premiere, and he was thrilled with our production and our wonderful student singers.   Our opera was in the midst of producing all of his operas, having mounted Florencia two years ago.  He will be greatly missed at the University of Houston!

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opera insights – l’heure espagnole

Photo - Brent Wojahn/The Oregonian


Here’s the L’heure espagnole portion of my pre-show talk yesterday afternoon for Portland Opera.

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