The Year in Classical Music


The SPCO tours Europe; the Minnesota Opera premieres “The Grapes of Wrath”; VocalEssence and “Illuminating Bolcom” celebrate a leading American composer; at year’s end, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Beethoven is nominated in next year’s Grammys


Luciano Pavarotti, the superstar; Beverly Sills, American diva; Gian Carlo Menotti, opera composer; Jerry Hadley, lyric tenor, in an apparent suicide; Mstislav Rostropovich, great cellist; Regine Crespin, French soprano; Karlheinz Stockhausen, pioneer of electronic music; Leland Sateren, stalwart of Minnesota choral music; Kitty Carlisle, actress, arts advocate and sometime classical music performer


Grammy: Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony: Mahler 7th

Gramophone Record of the Year: Nelson Freire/Brahms Piano Concertos

Grawemeyer Prize: Peter Lieberson, Neruda Songs

MacArthur Fellowship (the “genius grant”): Singer Dawn Upshaw

Pulitzer Prize: not to a classical composer, but to jazz great Ornette Coleman

Numerous “best of year” lists: Alex Ross’s book “The Rest Is Noise”


Conductor Alan Gilbert named next music director of the New York Philharmonic

Venezuelan conducting phenom Gustavo Dudamel named next music director of the L.A. Philharmonic

Tenor and cell-phone saleman Paul Potts sings “Nessun dorma” on “Britain’s Got Talent.” The YouTube version gets millions of hits


At a Boston Pops concert, two audience members get into a fistfight (inevitable headline: You Go to the Fights, and a Concert Breaks Out)

Joshua Bell plays as a anonymous subway busker in D.C.; no one much notices; much press and online discussion ensues

The Metropolitan Opera’s HD transmissions fill movie theaters across the country

Hattogate: it is revealed that dozens of CDs by the British pianist Joyce Hatto were actually other peoples’ performances, falsely released under her name

The New York Philharmonic announces plans to perform in North Korea

The success of Gustavo Dudamel (see above) focuses attention on Venezuela’s remarkable music education system, “El Sistema”

Thanks for reading THE LISTENING POST–Happy 2008!

Daily (Classical) Digest

In the news (and commentary) lately:

The New York Philharmonic has announced plans to perform in North Korea

The New York City Opera (New York’s “other” opera) will have no fixed address for a whole season; their future bossman, Gerard Mortier, spoke recently with Katherine Lanpher and supplied some must-have musical choices

The Minnesota Orchestra was just nominated for a Grammy; in MinnPost, Don Lee casts a dispassionate eye

Return of Met at the Movies

Last year’s inaugural series of live Metropolitan Opera performances in high definition was wildly successful; consequently, the program has been considerably expanded.

There will be eight operas included in the 2007-08 series, up from six last season.

Many, though not all, of the participating cinemas will offer weeknight encore presentations of the operas in addition to the live transmissions.

To view the list of participating venues, click here and scroll down to the “Locations & Tickets” box in the left column.

For information on local Twin Cities theaters, check the MPR Events Calendar.

As with last season, PBS will televise all eight Met broadcasts subsequent to their theatrical showings, and five will be released on DVD. And of course, you can listen live for free on Classical Minnesota Public Radio!

The first Met at the Movies is this weekend. Here’s a schedule for the entire season:

* December 15: Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, starring Roberto Alagna and Anna Netrebko and conducted by Plácido Domingo.

* January 1: Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, starring Christine Schäfer and Alice Coote (with tenor Philip Langridge as the Witch) in a new English-language production by Richard Jones conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.

* January 12: Verdi’s Macbeth, in a new production by Adrian Noble starring Lado Ataneli and Maria Guleghina, with company music director James Levine on the podium.

* February 16: Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, starring Karita Mattila and Marcello Giordani and conducted by Levine.

* March 15: Britten’s Peter Grimes, starring Anthony Dean Griffey and Patricia Racette in a new production directed by John Doyle and conducted by Donald Runnicles.

* March 22: Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, starring Deborah Voigt and Ben Heppner with Levine conducting.

* April 5: Puccini’s La Bohème, with Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas starring in the Franco Zeffirelli production, conducted by Nicola Luisotti.

* April 26: Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment, starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez in a new production directed by Laurent Pelly and conducted by Marco Armiliato.

Holiday Puzzler

If you like puzzles, here’s a holiday puzzle that was put out by a group of trombonists from Sweden. There’s a Swedish-language intro. Then, as near as I can make out, the group performs a medley of well-known (?) operatic melodies, interspersed with Nordic Christmas carols. The challenge is to name all the melodies — and they go by pretty quickly. The English caption says there are 20; I could not name that many. (Sorry, no prizes.)

But if you’re not a puzzle person, check it out anyhow; you’ll hear some terrific brass playing.