‘Iolanta’ charms at Queen City Opera

Iolanta and her aides in Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta” at Queen City Opera. Provided photos

“I long for something, but I don’t know what,” sang the lovely blind princess Iolanta, in Queen City Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s final opera, “Iolanta.”

Tchaikovsky’s rarely-seen one-act opera is being rediscovered, with the Met recently presenting its first production starring Anna Netrebko. Last month, inspired by the Met’s production, Isaac Selya mounted a charming, beautifully sung production in Cincinnati.

The fairytale opera is about a blind princess whose father, the king of Provence, King René, doesn’t allow her to know anything about light or vision, thus keeping her in the dark about her condition. (To create awareness, Selya collaborated with Cincinnati’s Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.)

It was a gem of an opera, with a magical orchestral score, rewarding singing by a young cast and a simple but effective set design in Dunham Arts Center, a former tuberculosis hospital on Cincinnati’s West Side.Read More »

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UC names new dean for CCM, and he’s a CCM grad

Kristi A. Nelson, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Cincinnati, today announced the appointment of Stanley E. Romanstein, PhD, as Dean of the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

Romanstein’s appointment becomes effective July 1, 2018, pending approval of the University’s Board of Trustees.

The CCM graduate returns to CCM from Georgia State University’s Creative Media Institute, where he has served as a professor of practice/music and the arts for the past four years. He was President and CEO of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (2010-14), among other posts.

Romanstein earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Carson-Newman College in 1976. He then came to CCM to earn a Master of Music in Choral Conducting in 1980 and a PhD in Music in 1990. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Israel in 1985-86 and in Japan in November-December 1998.

Read more about the new dean in the press release here.

Review: Pianist Leon Fleisher at 90

Leon Fleisher performed a luminous recital in Werner Hall at CCM on Saturday night.

Perhaps playing the piano is good for longevity. Amazingly, there are still two classical pianists who are concertizing into their 90s.

Earlier this year, Menahem Pressler, 94, the founding anchor of the Beaux Arts Trio, performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He made his debut with that orchestra under Eugene Ormandy in 1947. And, he’s still teaching at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University.

Over the weekend, Leon Fleisher, who is celebrating his 90th birthday, performed a recital as part of the Art of the Piano festival at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. (The festival’s founder, Awadagin Pratt, studied with Fleisher at Peabody.) As a teacher, Fleisher is a direct descendant of Beethoven, passed down through Carl Czerny, Theodor Leschetizky and Artur Schnabel.Read More »

Music critic Mary Ellyn Hutton: ‘The community was enriched by her knowledge’

Mary Ellyn Hutton wrote music criticism for 23 years for the Cincinnati Post.

Mary Ellyn Hutton will be remembered as a journalist with unflagging dedication to Cincinnati’s musical arts. The longtime classical music critic for the Cincinnati Post continued to cover the classical scene for more than a decade after the demise of Cincinnati’s afternoon newspaper in 2007.

She died surrounded by her family on May 28 after a battle with lung cancer. The Hyde Park resident was 77.Read More »

CSO’s Baroque gems with Bicket a rare treat

Countertenor Iestyn Davies joined Harry Bicket and the CSO in a rare Baroque concert at Music Hall. Photo provided by CSO/Kayla Moore

Harry Bicket’s Baroque concert of Handel and Rameau brought a breath of fresh air to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra over the weekend.

A glance at the program told the story of how rare it was to hear these Baroque gems in Music Hall. Every single piece on the program – even Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 11 – was being performed by the orchestra for the first time.

And there was no better partner in this repertoire than the superb British countertenor Iestyn Davies, who made his Cincinnati debut in arias from Handel operas. Davies is one of a new generation of countertenors now making international waves. Read More »

CCM grad a winner in Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Faselt, Jessica (updated)
Jessica Faselt, soprano. Photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera

CCM alumna Jessica Faselt, 25, of Iowa City was among five singers named as the winners of the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Faselt earned a Master of Music degree in Voice in 2016, and was a winner of the Corbett Award at CCM.

The other winners are: Madison Leonard, 26, soprano (Coeur d’Alene, ID); Ashley Dixon, 26, mezzo-soprano (Peachtree, GA); Hongni Wu, 23, mezzo-soprano (Jingdezhen, China); and Carlos Enrique Santelli, 26, tenor (Orlando, FL).

Each winner receives a $15,000 cash prize and the exposure that has launched the careers of many of opera’s biggest stars.

And in another local tie, CCM Artist Diploma in Opera Performance student Brandon Russell was a semi-finalist in this year’s Met National Council Auditions. He competed in the semi-final round held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera on April 22, and was awarded $1,500.Read More »

Robert Porco’s contract extended with May Festival

Director of choruses Robert Porco

The Cincinnati May Festival announced today a two-year contract extension for Robert Porco, Director of Choruses, through the end of the 2020 May Festival.

Porco has served in that role since 1989, preparing the volunteer May Festival Chorus for hundreds of performances for the festival, as well as for concerts with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops.Read More »