Comfort Ye… 23rd Annual Concert to Benefit the Homeless in NYC

Friday Evening December 22nd 2017 at 7pm 

Acclaimed American soprano Lauren Flanigan joined by world-class opera singers, sings and hosts this annual event to raise goods and awareness for New York’s Homeless

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St. Paul and St. Andrew Methodist Church

At the corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue 7pm



1 bag non-perishable groceries OR

1 brand new toy suitable for a child under ten OR

1 clean used overcoat or blanket OR

3 packages of baby diapers OR


The proceeds of this concert immediately benefit

The West Side Campaign Against Hunger

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An evening of Music with Nora Mooney, Gilad Paz and Felix Jarrar

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Masterclass with Mo. Michael Recchiuti and Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs

La Sirena Productions presents a


with Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs & Mo. Michael Recchiuti

Gurari Studios @ The National Opera Center
Friday, January 12, 2018 7:00 to 9:00pm
330 7th Ave. NY, NY 10001

And streaming LIVE ONLINE

Six singers will be selected to participate in this exciting, and unique performance and learning opportunity with one of today’s leading Dramatic Sopranos and an award winning International Conductor and Pianist. The class will be live-streamed in real time on Facebook and YouTube. Places available for six participants, 2 alternates, and 60 auditors. Application deadline is December 28, 2017.

Application fee is $25.00. Chosen participants will pay an additional $50.00 tuition. Auditors are chosen in order of applications received. Please click on link below to send application, video or audio submission, and application fee.

About Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs

Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs is recognized as one of the most exciting spinto- drammatico sopranos on the international scene today. Critics have praised her virtuosic bel canto technique, the beauty of her voice, her pyrotechnic coloratura, and her unerring theatricality. A brilliant interpreter of the most demanding roles in the spinto-drammatico soprano repertory, this past season she had triumphant appearances as Bellini’s Norma, opening the season at Rio de Janiero’s Teatro Municipal, and Puccini’s Turandot at the Gala Grand Opening of the Opera House in Xian, China. 2015/16 was her “Year of the Princesses” beginning with Salome with the Orchesta Sinfonica Nacional at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico, continuing with her debut as Strauss’ Elektra in the “Premio Abbiati” award winning production of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, and ending with Andreas Homoki’s production of Turandot at Den Norske Opera. Recent seasons have included Verdi’s Lady Macbeth in Montevideo, in Nabucco at the Grand Théâtre de Gèneve, and Nancy, France, and the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica. She was the featured artist opening the Verdi Bicentennial Concerts at Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes in a solo aria concert and the Messa da Requiem, followed by her critically acclaimed role and house debut in Strauss’ Salome at den Norske Opern in Stefan Herheim’s reprise of his Salzburg production. She then appeared under the baton of Lorin Maazel as Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West at his Castleton International Festival. She was heard internationally at the Metropolitan Opera as Tosca on a live Sirius Satellite broadcast with the tenor Marcello Giordani.  Hailed as one of the best young Verdi singers by Placido Domingo, she appeared with him at the Washington National Opera as Giordani’s Fedora in a gala performance. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Violetta in the Zeffirelli production of Verdi’s La Traviata under the baton of Marcello Viotti with Lado Ataneli as Germont, and her Italian debut was the title role in Jonathan Miller’s production of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda at Torino’s Teatro Regio, conducted by Evelino Pidó.

About Michael Recchiuti

Michael Recchiuti is active internationally as conductor, pianist, and accompanist. He has collaborated with artists of the international opera stage, and Grammy and Tony award winners such as Carlo Bergonzi, Giuseppe Giacomini, Placido Domingo, Justino Diaz, Roberta Peters, Adrianna Maliponte, Renee Fleming, Ceclia Gasdia, Ghena Dimitrova, Fiorenza Cossotto, Dolora Zajick, Chris Merritt, Paolo Gavanelli, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Stuart Neill, and Vanessa Williams.

He was head of the musical staff at Venice’s Gran Teatro La Fenice, and Consulente Musicale for the Ente Lirico in Cagliari Sardegna, where he presented the first French language performance in Italy, of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, starring Chris Merritt. He was a Guest Conductor at the Budapest State Opera in the Spring Festival, and for the Summer Festival production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino starring Giuseppe Giacomini in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

After winning the International Competition for Opera Conducting at Siena’s prestigious Accademia Chigiana, where he studied with Franco Ferrara, Carlo Maria Giulini, and Bruno Bartoletti, he was awarded the Diploma di Merito, and chosen to conduct performances of Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda with soprano Cecilia Gasdia. He has assisted many conductors, including Nicola Rescigno, Giuseppe Patanè, Placido Domingo, Bruno Bartoletti, and Alfredo Silipigni, who engaged him as Associate Conductor of the New Jersey State Opera, and invited him to conduct Puccini’s Le Villi, and Mascagni’s Zanetto. He also prepared productions of verismo rarities such as Mascagni’s Iris, and Lodoletta.

In North America, Mo. Recchiuti is the Artistic and General Director of the American Opera Theater, founding Principal Conductor of the New Jersey Opera Theater, and founding Music Director of Opera de las Americas, the national opera of the Dominican Republic. He has been a frequent guest conductor for many organizations including: Orchestra of St. Lukes, the Long Beach Opera where he collaborated with director Hugo DeAna, the Orlando Opera, the Korean Symphony of New York, the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, the National Lyric Opera.

His discography includes the newly released “Vaghissima sembianza”, a collection of the Arie di Stile Antico di Stefano Donaudy with soprano Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs; “Chris Merritt dal Vivo”, where he conducted the orchestra da Camera di Padova e del Veneto, and was awarded the Palme d’Or, and chosen as “Best CD of the Year” by Opera News, and CD Classica; “English Art Songs” featuring Britten’s the Holy Sonnets of John Donne and Roger Quilter songs, with tenor Paul Austen Kelly; and Alberto Mizrahi’s “Voice of a People” a collection of Cantorial Showpieces, Ashkenazic and Sephardic art songs.

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A very colorful Magic Flute at the Seattle Opera


By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

seattlelogoCOLORFUL FANTASY. Mozart’s utterly unique extravaganza blends myth, magic, and a remarkable variety of wonderful music to deliver its life-affirming message: love conquers all. A handsome prince and his comical sidekick are given enchanted musical instruments and tasked with rescuing the Queen of the Night’s daughter from a mysterious group of priests. Undergoing trials of virtue, discretion, and charity, they realize that all may not be as it seems in this magical land. Award-winning costumes from the fabulous Zandra Rhodes (The Pearl Fishers) add to the many delights of one of the most fantastic entertainments ever created.

In German with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Approximate Running Time: 3 hours, with 1 intermission
Evenings at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.




Long Story Short

Distressed queen sends prince (and feathered friend) off to rescue kidnapped princess. But instead, they undertake initiation into the kidnappers’ brotherhood of light and truth.

20_gallery_magicflute-heroWho’s Who?

Tamino is a handsome young prince.
Papageno is a good-natured birdcatcher who travels with Tamino.
Papagena is a pretty girl who likes Papageno.
Sarastro is a wise wizard and the benevolent ruler of a holy brotherhood.
The Queen of the Night is Pamina’s mother and Sarastro’s enemy.
Pamina is a beautiful princess and the Queen of the Night’s daughter. When the opera begins, she is a prisoner in Sarastro’s temple.
Monostatos is a Moorish temple guard in Sarastro’s community. He has the hots for Pamina.
The Three Ladies are servants of the Queen of the Night.
The Three Boys are spirits who guide Tamino and Papageno.

In the land where fairy-tales take place, a dragon is chasing young Prince Tamino. Three ladies kill the monster, then show the prince a picture of Pamina, the Queen of the Night’s daughter. He falls madly in love, and the Queen asks him to rescue Pamina, who has been kidnapped by the wicked Sarastro. The birdcatcher Papageno is enlisted as Tamino’s sidekick; Tamino is entrusted with a magic flute and Papageno with a set of magic bells.

Our heroes make it to Sarastro’s citadel, where Papageno protects Pamina from Monostatos, an amorous guard, while a wise priest explains to Tamino that the Queen is really the evil one: Sarastro kidnapped Pamina to rescue her from her mother’s evil influence. Tamino and Pamina undertake the series of tests and trials which will grant them entrance to Sarastro’s community. Monostatos, too, switches sides when the Queen of the Night offers him Pamina in exchange for betraying Sarastro. And Papageno fails all Sarastro’s tests, but runs off with the girl of his dreams.


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The Sinfonica Nazionale Rai is the new main orchestra of the Rossini Opera Festival

The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale of the RAI will be the new main orchestra of the Rossini Opera Festival. The ensemble, formed in 1994, is based in Turin where it holds regular seasons of symphonic music, chamber music and contemporary music in the “Arturo Toscanini” auditorium of the RAI.  Besides touring the leading international theaters and festivals, it performs regularly in Italy, and also appears on the RAI radio and television channels, such as Rai5 and Radio3, as well as on the Euroradio and Eurovision circuits and in streaming.

The OSN Rai will be bound to the ROF by a triennial partnership that will extend from 2017 into 2019.  The Sovrintendente of the Rai Orchestra, Paola Carruba, introduces the agreement with these words: “We are particularly happy in this new collaboration with one of the most prestigious Italian and international festivals. Our involvement originally began with a few concerts to take place in 2018 and 2019.  More recently the opportunity came up for our participating in the ROF itself beginning with this year, and as its main orchestra. And so a new agreement was reached for a project that will be developed over the course of several years. The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai is noted for its versatility, allowing it to pass easily from the main symphonic repertory to contemporary music, lending itself also to chamber music and, naturally, to opera, which we regularly present in our seasons, or on special occasions such as La traviata in Paris, Rigoletto in Mantua and La Cenerentola in Turin, all broadcast live in mondovisione. Therefore, the Rossini Opera Festival represents a new and important opportunity for us to test ourselves in the operatic repertory and in the works of a composer who, together with the singing voices, brings the role of the orchestra into high relief.  Besides the operas, each year the OSN Rai will be required to interpret Rossini’s great choral works, beginning with the Stabat Mater that will bring this year’s festival to an end.

The General Administrator of the Festival, Gianfranco Mariotti, declares: “We are highly satisfied with the new agreement with one of the most important Italian orchestras on an international level, and we are particularly so because of the strategic implication that both we and the Rai give to the fact that the agreement covers three years.  In this way we start off from a solid base of clearly defined shared objectives. In the 2017 ROF the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai will take part in three productions: the first performance ever of the critical edition of  Le siège de Corinthe, conducted by Roberto Abbado and produced by La Fura dels Baus, which will open the Festival on August 10th; La pietra del paragon, a revival of the ROF 2002 production conducted by Daniele Rustioni and directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, opening on August 11th ; and the Stabat Mater concluding the Festival on the 22nd of August, this too conducted by Daniele Rustioni.”

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February 22, 25, 28


The art of bel canto will take center stage in Bellini’s lyrical jewel. The electrifying Diana Damrau is Elvira, gripped by madness and love; Javier Camarena, a sensation in his recent appearances in other bel canto works, takes on the role of her beloved and heroic Arturo; and Alexey Markov and Luca Pisaroni are the soldiers caught up in the English Civil War. Maurizio Benini conducts.i_puritani_intro

World premiere: Théâtre Italien, Paris, 1835. I Puritani was the final work from Vincenzo Bellini, the great Sicilian exponent of the bel canto style of opera. It was written specifically for the talents of four of the best singers of its day, and the opera’s success depends almost entirely on the vocal abilities (and artistic sensibilities) of the performers. In our time, Maria Callas was catapulted to international stardom by a series of performances in I Puritani in 1949 at Venice’s La Fenice.



The opera is set in the English Civil War of Puritans (“Roundheads”) versus Royalists (“Cavaliers”). While taking many liberties with history, it is set against a background that was a universal idea and very familiar to Italians in Bellini’s time. The bel canto composers explored with powerful results the relationship of civil strife and individual madness: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor works with a similar, if slightly less explicit, format.





Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835) possessed an extraordinary gift for melody and a thorough understanding of the human voice. His premature death—just as he was achieving international success and expanding in new musical directions—is one of the most unfortunate in the history of music. The librettist, Count Carlo Pepoli (1796–1881), was an Italian political exile living among the seething expatriate circles of Paris.

SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of Metropolitan Opera)

World premiere: Théâtre Italien, Paris, 1835.

The art of bel canto will take center stage in Bellini’s lyrical jewel. The electrifying Diana Damrau is Elvira, gripped by madness and love; Javier Camarena, asensation in his recent appearances in other bel canto works, takes on the role of her beloved and heroic Arturo; and Alexey Markov and Luca Pisaroni are the soldiers caught up in the English Civil War. Maurizio Benini conducts.


England, around 1650. Plymouth, a Puritan stronghold, is threatened by siege from the Royalist troops. Distant voices herald the wedding day of Elvira, daughter of Gualtiero, the fortress’s commander. Riccardo enters lamenting that his promised bride, Elvira, loves another man—a Stuart partisan. Her father will not force her to marry against her will, it seems, so Riccardo’s friend Sir Bruno urges him to devote his life to leading the parliamentary forces.

Elvira tells her uncle, Giorgio, that she would rather die than marry Riccardo. Her uncle reassures her that he has persuaded her father to let her marry her lover, Arturo. Although Arturo is a Royalist, he is heralded as he approaches the castle.

Everyone gathers for the wedding celebration and Arturo greets his bride. He learns that King Charles’s widow, Queen Enrichetta, is a prisoner in the castle and soon to be taken to trial in London. Alone with the queen, Arturo offers to save her even if it means his death. Elvira returns with the bridal veil and capriciously places it over Enrichetta’s head. When he is alone again with the queen, Arturo explains that the veil will provide the perfect disguise for escape from the castle. As they are about to leave, Riccardo stops them, determined to kill his rival. Enrichetta separates them and reveals her identity. Riccardo lets them get away, knowing this will ruin Arturo. The others return for the wedding, and Riccardo tells of Arturo’s escape with Enrichetta. Soldiers rush off in pursuit. Elvira, believing herself betrayed, is overcome by madness.


The townsfolk mourn Elvira’s mental breakdown. Giorgio explains that she continues to long for Arturo. Riccardo arrives to announce that Arturo has been condemned to death by Parliament. The Puritans depart.

Elvira wanders in, reliving her happy past. In her madness, she mistakes Riccardo for Arturo and dreams of her wedding. When she leaves, Giorgio tries to convince Riccardo to save Arturo. At first indignant, Riccardo is finally moved to help Elvira, and the two men unite in patriotism: if Arturo returns as a friend, he shall live—if as an armed enemy, he shall die.


In Elvira’s garden, Arturo reveals that love for her has brought him back to Plymouth. He overhears her sing their old love song and is torn between his affection and his loyalty to the Stuarts. Elvira herself appears and Arturo reassures her that she is his only love. Soldiers rush in to arrest Arturo. Just then, a diplomat arrives with the news of the Royalists’ final defeat and a general amnesty for all the offenders. The shock of this news restores Elvira’s senses, and all rejoice in the peace as Elvira and Arturo embrace their new happiness.

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Seattle Opera presents La Traviata on January 14, 2017


By Giuseppe Verdi

seattlelogoIRRESISTIBLE CLASSIC. Verdi’s passionate portrait of a worldly courtesan forced by bourgeois society to give up the man of her dreams enthralls with a wide range of moods packed into a tautly-constructed story. One of the most perfect scores in opera elevates the timeless tale of moral hypocrisy and selfless sacrifice. Peter Konwitschny’s “five star” (Sunday Telegraph) production emphasizes the elegant music and emotional story with clean, simple visuals and striking sophistication. A milestone in opera history – sure to melt the coldest heart.




20_gallery_traviata-heroAnybody who’s anybody tries to get invited to the parties at the home of Violetta Valéry, the city’s most desirable courtesan. Young Alfredo, who’s just arrived in Paris from the deep rural south of France, has been standing outside gazing adoringly at her door for a year. When he is finally invited inside, he seizes the opportunity and passionately declares his love. Despite initial misgivings, she renounces her wild lifestyle and moves with him to the country.

Violetta’s happy idyll is shattered when Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, confronts her. He demands that she leave his son—not so much for Alfredo’s sake, but because Violetta’s scandalous past is tarnishing their family name and preventing Alfredo’s sister from making an advantageous marriage. The old man convinces Violetta that this pure, innocent sister is more deserving of happiness than a “fallen woman” like her.

Violetta, who knows she is dying of tuberculosis, agrees to distance herself from Alfredo, although the pain of the separation nearly destroys both of them. Alfredo publicly insults Violetta, then wounds her new patron in a duel and flees the country. Both Germonts, father and son, are at Violetta’s bedside when she dies: the father, appalled and ashamed by how much pain he has caused; the son, refusing to let his beloved go; and Violetta, who blesses Alfredo and wishes him future happiness with her dying breath.

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