Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Bellini 101

Thursday, January 1st, 2004

Were it not for the fact that I had been assisted in choosing pastries for the reception following the program by an enthusiastic set of two considerably younger siblings, I could have easily been led to believe that I was attending a lecture presented at a most prominent college of arts and humanities. The Symposium, which took place at our very own Polish American Cultural Center on Sunday, November 16, 2003, at 4:00 pm, was presented, as noted during the open discussion Dr. Jerzy Maciuszko, by several of the most distinguished scholars from the entire city of Cleveland. Opened by none other than Mr. Robert Finn, former Plain Dealer music critic, a position he successfully filled for 27 years, it was continued by Dr. Peter Laki. Only someone of his cultivated breadth of knowledge could have been able to undertake the Herculean task he considers his daily work: to write weekly program notes for the Cleveland Orchestra, a feat most appropriately compared by Mr. David Krakowski to writing a Master’s thesis a week. For his part, Mr. Krakowski, best known to us from his seemingly endless myriad of abilities as music director and organist at St. Stanislaus Church, participated in the Symposium as moderator, alternately presenting the leading speakers and deftly maneuvering the course of the broad discussion. How fittingly he introduced the final guest, not to mention the one most dear to our hearts: the master of the bel canto or canto legato school of singing Dr. Dorota Sobieska.


A Double Success of Composer & Performer Alike: La Straniera of Opera Circle

Monday, December 1st, 2003

I shall refer to antiquity, as many a writer thus open their thoughts. In the 4th century B.C., Aristotle reflected on the capacity of music to soothe the senses, & certain forms thereof to cleanse the soul. He could not have possibly known the musical output of Bellini, since the latter lived in the 19th century. I suspect, however, the Greek philosopher had in mind precisely the sort of music Vincenzo left behind—full of endless beauty, faithful to the texts, rich in melodic lyricism, introduced to the ear gently, without disturbance.

Vincenzo Bellini, beloved composer of Dorota Sobieska & Jacek Sobieski, has for the fifth time appeared in the repertoire of Opera Circle. From premiere to premiere he grows more and more beautiful. Norma, glorious and musically exquisite, was succeeded by La Straniera, equally beautiful, perhaps more accessible, as if ornamented by motives of folklore, compositionally simple but incredibly effective. The three performances of La Straniera proved a grand success of Opera Circle. In particular, that of November 20, 2003, at Grace Lutheran Church, will make its mark in history. Nothing short of a revolution, the response of a full house was far beyond enthusiastic, better characterized by excruciatingly lengthy ovations and yelling: “Bravo! bravo!”


The Making of Norma: Daughter of Oroveso

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003

Vincenzo Bellini first saw the tragedy Norma by the playwright Alexandre Souret produced on a Parisian stage in 1831. Fascinated by the drama, Bellini soon employed it as the subject of his own opera by the same name, which he completed within three months of the theatrical performance. The romantic character of the work, brought to life by the music of Bellini, garnered the composer a true success.

In Warsaw, the original premiere of Norma took place in 1843 in the original Italian, followed by a production in 1845 with the text set in Polish. Since then, the opera has been respected for its unique role in the repertoire. However, the actual production of the opera is a task far from frequent, as the level of difficulty for the vocalists demands excellent vocal training and technique. The complex arias and ensembles require from the singer a remarkable range and continuity of phrase, both in lyrical moments as in coloratura passages.