Opera: Tijuana style

Ciudad Juárez, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa… what do these cities have in common? They are border cities, where the violence in Mexico exploded due to the War on Drugs that devastated the northern part of the country.

Tijuana is precisely one of those cities that felt it heavily, but today teaches us a very nice lesson. Since years (even before the War on Drugs) Tijuana was world-known for its careless way of life. Alcohol, drugs, women, nasty streets and tough night life were part of the imagination when someone imagined the city.

The inhabitants, however, never lost their faith and found new ways to fight that feeling. As true Mexicans, they knew that violence cannot be stopped with more violence, and thus fought it the way they knew: sing and smile.

The Tijuana Cultural Centre and their young talents decided to give hope and draw smiles in its inhabitants with their own version of street Opera, a movement that has been seen previously in Europe, but a movement that Tijuana needed to gain energy and encourage their people to not give up and live peacefully. Did it work? Too soon to say, but oh boy! truly inspires.

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Song of the day: Granada – Agustín Lara

Aaahh, Agustín Lara! that romantic skinny, also known as “El flaco de oro” (the golden skinny). One of the most prolific composers of his time.

Worldwide known is the way he composed in the name of love (specially that impossible love) with masterpieces like Solamente una vez, María bonita, Piensa en mí, etc.

But also very well known is his love for Spain, where many of his songs are specially dedicated to its cities: Murcia, Madrid, Valencia, etc. becoming the songs that are now part of their heritage.

However, there is one song that stands out: Granada. The favorite of many tenors and one of the most sang worldwide. Why? Power, I would say. Granada is passion and courage, is the voice of love for our land, love for our people. Granada is a proud moment to sing for ourselves.

My personal choice was to put Plácido Domingo‘s version. No better tenor could feel this ‘mestizo’ passion than the one born in Spain and raised in Mexico.

Song of the day: Ciel, che feci – Guiseppe Verdi

Two weeks ago I was in one of the best concerts ever in my life. I got my ticket since early February and it was one of the last ones. That event is one of the most famous in Munich. It is part of a complete weekend with classical music.

It’s called “Klassik am Odeonsplatz”” that literally means “Classic at Odeonsplatz”, which is a square in downtown Munich surrounded by beautiful architecture and a nice atmosphere. It takes place every summer and the most remarkable artists of classical music perform in an Open-Air concert.

This year was awesome not only because Yannick Nézet-Séguin was directing the orchestra and Thomas Hampson was the leading Baritone, but also because my favorite tenor Rolando Villazon gave one of the most powerful and amazing performances I’ve heard from him. And yeah, I was there.

The final duet with Hampson and Villazon singing Verdi’s “Dio, che nell’alma infondere” was stunning. But, for me, what really got the night was the final solo performance of Villazón, when he stood in front and sung “Ciel, che feci” from Verdi’s Oberto. And it’s obvious that he was going to sing Verdi, as nowadays he’s promoting his latests work, which goes around him.

Huh! I have goosebumps just remembering. Amazing, that’s the word to describe his interpretation. After that I just stood up and burst into applause with all my energy. But stop reading about it. Watch his great performance in the following video from 13:38.

Bravo!

10 000 sing the Ode to Joy

It is always impressive to listen to a powerful voice, such as the Opera singers. As you might know, I’m an Opera lover and is one of my favorite music styles.

This time I wanna share this video with you, it is a Choir with 10 000 singers from Osaka and Sendai, singing along with the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra. They recorded this amazingly beautiful version of the 9th Symphony of Beethoven, better known as the “Ode to Joy”, which is now the European Anthem.

The performance was directed by Yutaka Sado and it was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the tsunami. Just have a look to the video. I would really love to be in that concert!

Song of the day: Júrame – María Grever

The song is a masterpiece of one of the best Mexican composers: María Grever. She was born in León, Guanajuato by the end of the XIX Century. When she was young she was really into music and she was even studying with Claude Debussy. As a trend of the time, she was composing many pieces for films.

Actually her passion were “Boleros”, so she was very prolific at them but unfortunately was not so famous until her classic song hits the radios: “Júrame”. It is well known that the most skilled tenors in the world love this song because of its versatile movements and strong sounds, but most of all because of the passion in it. Lately Plácido Domingo was singing it in almost all of his concerts.

It is the story of a man asking to her beloved to swear him that she will never forget him. That’s why the name of the song: “Júrame” (“Swear to me” in Spanish). The guy just asks for a final second of love with a kiss and a promise, the promise of being someone important in the memory of the girl he loves. Well… actually, because it is in first person, it doesn’t specify if it’s a guy or a girl. It is just a gigantic love between two persons, a love that leads to madness and desperation.

Nowadays the “Plácido Domingo of our times”, Rolando Villazón gives an interpretation that entirely shocks me. It is really stunning to hear this song in his voice, so, here it is:

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Rolando Hoffmann

After my failed attempt of going to “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” in the National Theater, I’m convinced now that I have to go and watch these two super amazing performers. Most of all because of the energy in Rolando Villazón. I could stay here saying how much I admire that man, but… you can see it in this video. It doesn’t matter if you can not speak German, Rolando is enough expressive.

Song of the day: Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen

This time the “song” of the day is the aria “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” from my favorite Opera Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”.

The literal translation of the “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” is “The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart” and it is sung by a soprano in the character of the Queen of the Night. I “discovered” the song while hearing years ago pieces from Mozart’s Opera and voice of the soprano impressed me so much that I felt in love of the aria, but it was after some years when I re-discovered it with my Lodge brothers and found out the true whole meaning of the Opera, being this aria one of the most crucial events in the masterpiece.

It is commonly abbreviated as “Der Hölle Rache” or some times as “The Aria of the Queen of the Night”, even when there are other arias of the Queen of the night in the magic flute. The colotura with the high C (which needs a high tessitura too) draws attention really fast and gives a lot of power to the piece. So in the end we can just really enjoy the aria with the magistral voice of the corresponding soprano.

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