Listening Party Podcast Episode 1
Mar 27, 2020 1:00pm
Friday, March 27, 2020 | 4 pm | On Demand
Today Rebecca chats with Pacific Opera’s music staff about some of the amazing and amusing musical experiences that have stuck with them over the years – and the stories behind these memorable experiences.
Join Artistic Director and Conductor Timothy Vernon; Chorus Master and Associate Conductor Giuseppe (Joey) Pietraroia; and Robert Holliston, our Curator of Public Engagement and regular host of Inside Opera and Pacific Opera’s Lobby Talks. And then enjoy today’s Listening Party Podcast Playlist.
Robert Holliston recalls a road trip to Seattle for one of the great operatic evenings of his life – the riveting experience of seeing the great Jon Vickers in Peter Grimes. It was Robert’s first time seeing a large-scale Britten opera – an astounding memory of a live performance by an absolute master of the art form.
Robert also lets us in on a secret: the key to knowing when you’ve experienced a great concert is when you leave the concert hall and walk six blocks in the wrong direction. Find out who the performers are who led him so far astray!
Robert also recalls seeing Kopernikus by Canadian composer Claude Vivier – an event memorable not only for the work and the performance, but for the perfect post-Vivier libation that he discovered afterward.
Joey Pietraroia recalls being a teenager in Montreal, planning a career as a jazz saxophonist, when a free ticket to a concert in the Montreal Forum introduced him to the wonder of symphonic music and turned his heart toward a career as a classical musician.
Joey also reminisces about his encounter with Gustav Mahler’s massive second symphony, known by those in the know as Mahler Two. As a conducting student studying at McGill with none other than Timothy Vernon, Joey had the thrill of conducting one of the off-stage brass sections for the grand finale.
BONUS: A little more on Mahler Two. This enjoyable overview explains why a performance of Mahler Two is such a mind-blowing event. It includes video excerpts and some wild conductor gifs.
Did you know that Pacific Opera’s Artistic Director Timothy Vernon actually sang the Queen of the Night in public? Timothy started his musical career at the age of six when he joined the Boys Choir at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. Over the years he advanced to became a soloist, and, in his own words, “a very swell-headed young rebel”.
When he was 11, Timothy made the trip across to Vancouver to attend one of his first live operas – the thrilling 1958 Don Giovanni that marked the North American debut of Joan Sutherland and featured an assemblage of Canadian luminaries with whom Timothy would later work – Leopold Simoneau, Pierrette Alarie, Bernard Turgeon.
Timothy recalls this historical production and the subsequent adventure of going backstage to chat about singing with the evening’s Don Giovanni, the great George London.
Joey requested the final movement of Beethoven‘s Ninth Symphony and the Egmont Overture, with specific conductors for both, which are reflected in the play list. You will find Joey’s favorite Pavarotti aria in the list, as well as mine. I heard Ah, mes amis live in San Francisco in a concert he gave in 1991 and have never forgotten it, with those outstanding nine – that’s right, NINE – high C’s in the aria. Amazing!
Timothy spoke of a particular Don Giovanni that he saw in 1958 in Vancouver, and I have been able to find almost the whole cast (on different recordings). I regret I was unable to locate any Mozart recorded by Bernard Turgeon, but I did take advantage of the opportunity to share the two tenors Timothy referenced, Fritz Wunderlich and Leopold Simoneau. Timothy requested Simoneau singing Il mio Tesoro and Wunderlich singing Dalla sua pace, but I couldn’t resist sharing them back to back singing the same aria. It’s so interesting to hear two different artists of such skill and renown in the same piece and then to decide for yourself which one you prefer.
You will find a bonus pair of tracks from Don Giovanni as Timothy spoke to me about his love of the recording conducted by Ferenc Fricsay featuring Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. At Timothy’s request you will find the overture and the scene where the Don gets dragged into hell.
Note: If you don’t already have a Spotify account, you will need to sign up for a free account and either download the app or listen on the web.
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