Life Imitates Art, and Opera Imitates the Tabloids

Item: NPR, Dec 30, 2011: Opera director Claudio Del Monaco was stabbed in the chest by his wife last week. The wife is an aspiring opera singer who apparently was upset that her husband failed to promote her career.

Item: Weekly World News, at the grocery store checkout lane, May 31, 1988:

“Opera Singer Gores Director; Stunned Audience sees 300 pounds of fury charge across the stage: Thundering soprano Francine Bahr got ticked off in the middle of an opera performance, charged across the stage like an enraged rhino – and gored her director with the horned helmet on her head.”

[Click on the thumbnail to read the full article]

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As Anna Russell would say, “I’m not making this up you know!!!”

Composer Paul Dresher shares his desert-island playlist

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Composer Paul Dresher’s music has been described as minimalist, post-minimalist and even pre-maximalist. He says for the most part his music is an eclectic mix of European traditions – and yeah, minimalism – as well as rock and world music, including Ghanaian, Hindustani, Javanese and Balinese.

In fact, Paul is so interested in getting certain kinds of music and their traditions just right that he’s taken up the talking drums and sitar.

Paul is a delight and joined me today on-air to talk about the piece getting a performance with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra this weekend, Cornucopia. It’s music he initially played himself on the electric guitar with taped sounds and it was Steve Reich who thought the sounds would work well for acoustic chamber orchestra.

The real fun on-air began when Paul shared a kind of desert island disc playlist. Mahler, Bach and North Indian classical made it on today even though he had piles of discs with him from Berkeley. We’ll save those for next time!

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Jan. 3 to 10

Wednesday, noon: Music with Minnesotans: Graphic novelist Sam Hiti

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Wendy Warner and Irina Nuzova in Myaskovsky’s Cello Sonata

Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Future Classics

Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: Hansel and Gretel

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: The Illusive English Organ

Sunday, noon: From the Top

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique plays Beethoven

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: music of Haydn, Carter, and Frank Martin

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3

Composer/Conductor Eric Whitacre has announced that Virtual Choir 3 will be accepting submissions through the end of January.

Virtual Choir is a project where singers from around the world can submit videos of themselves singing their part to a video of Eric Whitacre conducting.

The virtual choir project was featured in a TED talk, describing the work that went into it and some of the ramifications of an internet based choir.

Previous virtual choirs:

Virtual Choir 2.0 singing Sleep
Virtual Choir 1 singing Lux Aurumque

Cartoonist Sam Hiti on the air tomorrow

Avid listener Sam Hiti sent this email to me one morning during some Michael Haydn:

“Alison, Great song you are playing. I was doing my morning warm up doodle and this is what happened.”


What an amazing effect music can have!

Of course, I always invite listeners to write me any time and share what they like and even what they don’t like about how I’m doing and the music I’m playing. I’ve made a lot of friends this way because I’m always ready to talk music and mostly ready to consider other perspectives!

Since hosting Music with Minnesotans I’ve had lots of mail from candidates nominating themselves for the show. One of my most favorite was Sam who sent me an original drawing inspired by my Halloween show. He made me laugh because I can TOTALLY relate to that snotty-nosed kid. As a natural food junkie myself, I am oftentimes thoroughly obnoxious about it!


Sam will be my guest tomorrow and he’s created a kind of story-board of music to tell us the many moods and emotions we have as northerners towards this brutal season. Don’t miss it – tomorrow at noon.


Don’t we all need to escape into the outdoors every so often and contemplate the weirdness of our family?!