In essence

Up close with composers

The Sapho Affair! Charles Gounod and Pauline Viardot

Charles Gounod unabashedly referred to Pauline Viardot as “The godmother of my career.” He first met her around a rather difficult time in his life. His brother Urbain had unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a two-year-old child and a widow [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 15th, 2018
Queen and Writer: Elisabeth of Wied and Carmen Sylva

Pauline Elisabeth Ottilie Luise zu Wied (1843– 1916), the Queen of Romania as the wife of King Carol I of Romania, led her literary life as the author Carmen Sylva. She wrote across a wide number of genres, including poems, [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | June 14th, 2018
Casanova the Violinist

Popular culture has always been mesmerized by the exploits of the Venetian adventurer and author Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (1725-1798). Primarily remembered for his countless affairs with women and a handful of men, he was also a scam artist who made [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 13th, 2018
Stravinsky: Petrushka Premiered today in 1911

The appeal of Serge Diaghilev’s productions for the Ballets Russes is based on the novelty of Russian dance, and on its penchant for exotic subjects, many of them folkloric in nature. Igor Stravinsky scored a Parisian triumph for Diaghilev‘s troupe [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 13th, 2018
Mikhail Glinka and Maria Petrovna “Marriage is like Counterpoint—Opposition and Contrary Motion”

Upon departing from Italy, Mikhail Glinka stopped in Berlin and took some counterpoint lessons from Siegfried Dehn. The study of counterpoint fueled his desire to write a national opera, as he wrote to a friend, “I have a project in [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 12th, 2018
“The Pleasure of Love”

On a list of the most popular love songs in classical music, Plaisir d’amour (The pleasure of love) would undoubtedly rank supremely high. Originally composed in 1784, Hector Berlioz arranged the tune for orchestra, and various pop-music settings include the [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 11th, 2018
Britten: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In August 1959, Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh was undergoing a complete refurbishment, and to celebrate the reopening a year later, a new opera was definitely required. Since Benjamin Britten already was the artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival at that [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 11th, 2018
Mozart and the Cairo Goose

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart scored a resounding triumph with The Abduction from the Seraglio in 1782. Impatient to write for the stage again he made two abortive attempts at opera buffa. Initially, Mozart requested a libretto from the Salzburg court chaplain [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 10th, 2018