Archive for Mozart

Le Salon de Musiques, May – “Masters Rediscovered” – Los Angeles musical concert review

PULCINELLA, by the Ballets Russes Music by Igor STRAVINSKY Directed by S. DIAGHILEV, Choreography by L.MASSINE,  and designs by P. PICASSO

PULCINELLA, by the Ballets Russes
Music by Igor STRAVINSKY
Directed by S. DIAGHILEV, Choreography by L.MASSINE, 
and designs by P. PICASSO

“From the city of Oranienbaum-Russia, where he was born in 1882, until his last journey to the Island of San Michele-Venice in Italy where he was buried in 1971, Igor Stravinsky spent almost 28 years in Los Angeles.

Strangely, a lot of people still do not know that for a long period of time, the Russian-French-American Master lived in a beautiful house located on North Wetherly Drive, above Sunset Boulevard.

Just a few years ago, as one of his neighbors, I discovered that this mansion was for sale, so I decided to go there for a kind of pilgrimage. I will always remember how emotional it was for me to enter into this impressive, exquisite and symbolic place, where the famous composer wrote some of his most wonderful and so famous scores…

But at the same time, I felt really sad that the Real Estate representative there did not mention anything about him, even when I was talking about Igor Stravinsky, he did not seem to know who this person was. Still today, it seems that there is no commemorative plaque fixed outside the house, or on the front wall, to pay a tribute to this giant composer, pianist and conductor.” A remembrance by Francois Chouchan.


Commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev, and after Firebird, Petrushka and Rite of Spring, the ballet Pulcinella was finalized by Igor Stravinsky in April 1920, and Premiered a few months later by the Ballets Russes at the Opera de Paris. The idea came first from the Russian Impressario, who asked his friend to get his inspiration from some of the eighteenth-century scores written by the famous Italian Composer Pergolesi, but also  between some almost unknown Composers as Domenicio Gallo, and Carlo Ignazio Monza.

Stravinsky’s work included three singers and a Chamber Orchestra.

Considered like one of the first piece of the Neo-Classicism, the subject of this multiple episodes’ ballet was Pulcinella, the main character of the Neapolitan commedia dell’arte. With Pablo Picasso who created the sets and the costumes, and Leonide Massine who did the libretto and the choreography, the premiere in Paris was highly acclaimed.

Following this success, Stravinsky and his family decided to move to France, where they lived for a several years. In a difficult financial situation, the composer was helped and supported by the famous fashion designer Coco Chanel. He also decided to join the Pleyel Piano Company, through a partnership.

In 1932, Igor Stravinsky, in collaboration with his good friend the famous Cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, decided to work on a new piece for Cello and Piano, directly inspired by his “Suite Italienne”, extracted from the original score of his Pulcinella ballet.

“I began by composing on the Pergolesi manuscripts themselves, as though I were correcting an old work of my own. I knew that I could not produce a forgery of Pergolesi because my motor habits are so different; at best, I could repeat him in my own accent.”

~ Igor Stravinsky

With the same ironic and humorist spirit as his original ballet, this new piece written for cello & piano in five movements, keeps this magical feeling of the past. It is considered one of the most beautiful works of the cello repertoire.


On Sunday May 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm,


celebrates two Russian Masters,
Igor Stravinsky & Sergei Rachmaninoff.

This exquisite recital will be performed
by two World Renowned Virtuosos:

John Walz, Cello,
(Principal Cellist of the Los Angeles Opera),
and Steven Vanhauwaert, Piano.

Sponsored by STEINWAY & SONS
KMOZART Classical Radio
The French Consulate of Los Angeles
The German Consulate of Los Angeles

About Le Salon de Musiques:

In an intimate setting, without any stage or separation between the audience and the artists, feel the essence of Chamber Music, and immerse yourself in the “heart of the Art” to become one with the Music.

A French Champagne reception with a Gourmet Buffet catered by Patina follows the performance, and the Q & A between the Artists and the audience.


Introduced by Musicologist
Julius Reder Carlson

- Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971):

“Suite Italienne” for Cello & Piano

- Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943):

- Sonata for Cello & Piano in G minor Opus 19

“Vocalise” for Cello & Piano n.14 Opus 34



To book tickets, go here or or call (310) 498-0257

(Special offers are available on line.)

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion,
5th Floor
135 N. Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012


Student:$39.00* — Regular:$75.00*

*(Including French Champagne, and gourmet sandwich buffet catered by Patina.)





La Opera’s ‘Figaro Unbound’ season draws to a close: Another “Barber Of Seville” – Los Angeles opera review

Barber Paisiello

LA Opera’s season-long Figaro Unbound tribute to the characters created by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais is drawing to a close, but its latest event is among the most interesting in the season long program: Giovanni Paisiello’s seldom performed version of The Barber of Seville.

The Barber of Seville was the first of three plays by Beaumarchais devoted to the character of Figaro and his fellow citizens of Seville. Across Figaro Unbound, LA Opera has presented operatic adaptations by Corigliano, Rossini and Mozart. Saverio Mercadante’s opera The Two Figaros was done by UCLA as part of the program.

Now we come to Paisiello’s version of The Barber of Seville, performed by artists of the LA Opera Domingo-Colburn Young Artists Program and the USC Thornton School of Music Orchestra under the direction of LA Opera Music Director James Conlon.

In his pre-performance discussion of the opera, Maestro Conlon told how Paisiello’s Barber of Seville was a significant force in his decision to pursue a career in music.  That affection for the score came through in this performance.  He had actually conducted the work once before, nearly forty years ago and said he hoped that after tonight he hoped he would be able to conduct the work again sometime. Let’s hope it’s not another forty years in the future!  We can all hope for the same: This was a lovely performance of a once popular work that is worth hearing.  Here at ArtsBeatLA we outlined the history of Paisiello’s opera a few weeks ago in a previously published post.

It’s the same story we know from Rossini’s now more famous version. The Count Almaviva has fallen in love with the beautiful Rosina and now he wants to marry her. Rosina, a wealthy orphan, is under the guardianship of the creepy old Doctor Bartolo, who wants to marry the girl himself and struggles to keep the Count away from her with the help of the greedy priest/music master Don Basilio. Almaviva, with the help of the resourceful jack-of-all-trades Figaro, woos Rosina, wins her heart and marries her despite the efforts of Bartolo. A happy ending ensues for the young couple, at least until the bump in the road that occurs a few years later in the sequel, The Marriage of Figaro.

Paisiello’s Barber is full of beautiful, very tuneful classical music, more graceful and less rambunctious than Rossini’s more familiar score. The performance was clearly a labor of love. The small student orchestra played commendably under Maestro Conlon’s direction. The singers, most of them members of the LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn Young Artists Program, were even better.  Tenor Brenton Ryan was a good Almaviva, well partnered by Kathleen Giaquinto’s minx of a Rosina. Their performance together of the singing lesson in Act 2 was funny, aided and abetted by baritone E. Scott Levin as Doctor Bartolo who was a scene stealer in the buffo tradition. Nicholas Brownlee, a 2015 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, was an excellent Don Basilio and baritone Kihun Yoon, an outstanding Figaro, with a rich and resonant voice and deft comic timing.

Saturday’s performance was the second of two which took place at Caroline’s Loft, a small performing space on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles. The opera was presented semi-staged, basically a bare stage with a few pieces of furniture for props. The orchestra, a harpsichord and Maestro Conlon were placed along the far end of the performing area. The costumes were confined to modern dress – suits for Figaro and Doctor Bartolo, a dress for Rosina, a cassock for Don Basilio. Since the Count adopts a variety of disguises in his attempts to infiltrate the Bartolo household and get to Rosina, he changed costumes several times. Ingeniously, he wore a Cal State LA hoodie while disguised as poor student Lindoro, an army camouflage uniform while playing a drunken soldier, and another cassock with badly repaired glasses while trying to slip in disguises as an annoying colleague of Don Basilio’s. The cast used these simple elements very effectively to convey the story.

Performances such as this are a reminder that there is a lot of good musical entertainment available around Los Angeles, sometimes to be found off the beaten path. Small scale, unorthodox performances like this one permits audiences to hear works outside the standard repertoire that are no less worthy of the attention than the more familiar (and more commonly staged) works.

Bravi to all involved!


Report by Jeffrey Roberts.





Le Salon de Musiques, April – “Masters Rediscovered” – Los Angeles musical concert review


Mozart - Le Salon April

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

“I myself consider it to be the best work I have ever written in my life…”

~ W. A. MOZART -  March 1784

This 7th event of this Le Salon de Musiques season features works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, among others.

In 1784, as part of his 450 scores already written -  including six of his Piano Concertos – the Austrian prodigy produced his Quintet for Piano and Winds – Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Horn – in  E Flat Major K 452.

This wonderful piece is totally exquisite:  one can feel the style and structure of another piano concerto, written in three movements, where each instrument can find its “own space to sing.”

BEETHOVEN was so impressed by this work that he immediately decided to write his own quintet with the same structure, the same instrumentation, and in the same key.

About his quintet, MOZART wrote to his father Leopold, saying, “I myself consider it to be the best work I have ever written in my life.”

Initially scheduled to be performed on March 21, in presence of the Prince Aloys LIECHTENSTEIN, the piece finally Premiered at the Burg Theatre in Vienna on April 1, 1784, but the Prince did not show up. MOZART was at the Piano. During the next years, MOZART stayed in Vienna, where he tried to make a living through his multiple concerts, organized by Philanthropists, most of the time. He also became a music teacher. After getting married to Constanze WEBER, the couple had six children: Raimund Leopold was born in 1783, Karl Thomas in 1784, Johann Leopold in 1786, Theresia in 1787, Anna in 1789, and Franz Xaver Wolfgang in 1791. Four of them died during childhood. Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver were the only survivors.

At this time the Composer wrote his most famous operas, “Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail” in 1782,“La Nozze di Figaro” in 1786, “Don Giovanni” in 1787,“Cosi fan tutte” in 1790, and “La Clemenza di Tito” in 1791.

His good friend and Patron Otto Von GEMMINGEN, who was the Master of the Masonic Lodge “Beneficence”, introduced MOZART to the freemasonry in 1784.  As a new member, MOZART invited his father and his close friend Joseph HAYDN to join him. One year before he died, his successful masonic opera “The Magic Flute” was composed.

As a court musician for the Imperial Court of Emperor Joseph II, MOZART did not make enough money, and his financial situation became terribly difficult. The composer decided to travel again all over Europe, attempting to get more engagements, but his health declined quickly. Severe colic attacks with rheumatic fevers struck him down. Just a few months after leaving Vienna, MOZART had to stay in bed again, as his medical situation became critical. His doctor and friend, Sigmund BARISANI, assisted him until the end.

On December 5, 1791, MOZART died at the age of 35. Several rumors said that the Composer was poisoned by his competitor Antonio SALIERI.

A few weeks before, Constanze revealed that her husband spoke himself about a potential poisoning. Today the real circumstances of his death remain unclear. MOZART was buried in a mass grave at the St MARX cemetery in Vienna.

~  ~  ~



Sunday, April 19, 2015

4:00 pm

in Partnership with LAMOTH

A celebration of W. A. MOZART, featuring his wonderful Quintet for Piano & Winds, along with several Genius European Composers,
Leo SMIT (including one L.A. PREMIERE).

The program will be performed by world renowned artists:

Elissa JOHNSTON, Soprano,
Don FOSTER, Clarinet,
Judith FARMER, Bassoon,
Jennifer JOHNSON, Oboe,
Edith ORLOFF, Piano,
& Francois CHOUCHAN, Piano.

Sponsored by STEINWAY & SONS
KMOZART Classical Radio
The French Consulate of Los Angeles
The German Consulate of Los Angeles


Introduced by Musicologist, Julius REDER CARLSON

Quintet for Piano & Winds
in E Flat Major K 452

Songs for Soprano & Piano

Sextet for Piano & Winds Op 100

Sextet for Winds & Piano



To book tickets, go here or or call (310) 498-0257

(Special offers are available on line.)

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion,
5th Floor
135 N. Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012


Student:$39.00* — Regular:$75.00*

*(Including French Champagne, and gourmet sandwich buffet catered by Patina.)





The other “Barber of Seville” offering – Los Angeles opera report

Giovanni Paisiello.

Giovanni Paisiello.

In my recent review of LA Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro, I lamented that the company had missed an opportunity by not doing Giovanni Paisiello’s adaptation of The Barber of Seville as part of the series of programs devoted to Pierre Beaumarchais’ three Figaro plays.

I stand corrected!

They are doing precisely that!

On April 10th and 11th at Caroline’s Loft at LACHSA on the campus of Cal State LA, LA Opera Music Director James Conlon will conduct singers from the company’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program and musicians from the USC Thornton School of Music Orchestra in Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile.

Paisiello was a successful and highly prolific composer who, in his life and career (1740-1816), composed nearly a hundred operas, among other works. These are perhaps more notable for their elegance rather than their profundity, but they were popular in their day and his music is frequently quite beautiful. In 1782 he composed his version of The Barber of Seville. It was extremely popular in its day and fans of the earlier work protested when Rossini adapted the same play 34 years later.

In time, Rossini’s version all but completely eclipsed Paisiello’s… Now, LA Opera’s Figaro Unbound program gives us a rare opportunity to listen to and compare the two works for ourselves.  The plot and characters are the same between the two operas; Paisiello’s work perhaps slightly more restrained than Rossini’s, emphasizing the love story more than the comedy in the more familiar work.

Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile.

April 10 and 11, 2015

Caroline’s Loft at LACHSA

On the campus of Cal State LA

Tickets are FREE for this semi-staged concert, but reservations are required.

A pre-performance talk by Maestro Conlon will begin at 6:30pm on both evenings.

Further information is available here.

Tickets are available here.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience an operatic rarity and another depiction of Pierre Beaumarchais’ immortal character. Viva Figaro!


Report by Jeffrey Roberts.






LA Opera’s “The Marriage of Figaro” – Los Angeles opera review

Photo: Craig T. Mathew / LA Opera

Photo: Craig T. Mathew / LA Opera


LA Opera’s Figaro Trilogy came to a triumphant conclusion Saturday night with the opening of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. The trilogy began earlier this season with Corigliano’s ‘grand opera buffa’ Ghosts of Versailles and continued with Rossini’s comedy The Barber of Seville, which comes first chronologically in these musical adaptations of French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais’ classic plays.

The Marriage of Figaro resumes the story three years on. The Count has married Rosina but is already bored with her. Figaro, the former Barber and now the Count’s valet, is to marry Susanna, but the Count insistently tries to force himself on Figaro’s intended bride. In the meantime, Figaro also faces a legal complication – he has borrowed money from Marcellina (Berta in Barber) against a promise to marry her. Now she intends to enforce that contract with the help of Doctor Bartolo, still stinging from Figaro’s intervention in his affair in Barber and out for revenge. The Countess Rosina, bored and lonely after losing the attention of her husband, is pursued by the amorous young page Cherubino, who has discovered his passion for women in general and the Countess in particular, earning the Count’s wrath. The whole opera plays out over the course of a very long day, ending with the couples properly paired up and the Count severely chastened and once more resuming his attentions on his wife.

The opera is performed in two long acts, with an intermission between the original Acts 2 and 3. This production is a remount, once again using sets by Tim Goodchild and costumes by Deirdre Clancy, and its original concept updates the action from 18th century Seville to the 1930s. The sets are large and towering, employing simple architectural elements in mostly bright colors with a few small pieces of furniture, all offset by some large, suspended chandeliers. For the opera’s finals scenes, the setting moves outdoors to a garden of stylized trees and shrubs with a villa and oversized full moon visible in the background. The brilliant opera concludes with a stunning indoor pyrotechnic spectacle.

Ian Judge’s direction is exemplary; the exceptional cast and chorus playing brilliantly off each other both vocally and in their dramatic interpretations.

Italian bass baritone Roberto Tagliavini made an impressive debut as Figaro, with a handsome stage presence and an attractive voice allied to fine comic timing. He was well matched by soprano Pretty Yende, a charming and also commanding Susanna. Soprano Guanqun Yu, whose performance as Countess Rosina was one of the high points of Ghosts of Versailles, returned in the same part in Figaro and was even more impressive. Her soprano is rich and carries beautifully into the auditorium; she looks every inch the lovelorn noblewoman and her two arias, “Porgi Amor” and “Dove Sono” were highlights of the evening’s performance. The rest of the cast offered excellent support including Ryan McKinny as a gruff, threatening Almaviva and Renée Rapier – a hilarious mix of sighs and leers – as the love-struck Cherubino. Kristinn Sigmundsson – Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville –here played Doctor Bartolo and once again demonstrated fine comic timing matched with a booming voice. Lucy Schaufer, a cut-up as the maid in Barberwas back as Marcellina in Marriage and was comedically dazzling and endearing, particularly in the scene where she discovers her true relationship to Figaro. Tenors Robert Brubaker, as the conniving Don Basilio, and Joel Sorenson, as the stammering notary Don Curzio, lent fine comic support. Soprano So Young Park was a playful Barbarina, who sang her little last act arioso beautifully. Regrettably, neither Marcellina nor Basilio were given the opportunity to sing their last act arias as they had been cut from this production.

James Conlon and the orchestra were at their finest, providing deft, virtuoso playing. Special praise goes to Bryndon Hassman for his lively harpsichord continuo, which gracefully accompanied the recitatives.

Beginning with Corigliano’s opera, I have enjoyed this LA Opera Figaro Trilogy and its additional related performances. The company is to be commended for this kind of creative cross-cultural programming. In my heart of hearts I might have wished for performances, perhaps in conjunction with another local arts company, of Giovanni Paisiello’s once popular adaptation of The Barber of Seville, which fell into relative obscurity after Rossini’s version appeared. Or perhaps Darius Mihaud’s 1966 operatic version of third Figaro play La mère coupable might have been added to round out this celebration of Pierre Beaumarchais’ Figaro, but you cannot have everything…

Bravo on a creative programming concert. Bravissimi for the execution of that fine concept.

 Photo: Craig T. Mathew / LA Opera

Photo: Craig T. Mathew / LA Opera

Five performances of The Marriage of Figaro remain, running at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion until April 12th. More information, including performance dates and ticketing, can be found on the LA Opera’s official site.

Review by Jeffrey Roberts.