MICHAEL BISHOP, Sound Engineer – Grammy Nomination for LA BOHÈME

Telarc International releases live recording
by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

A Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album (Classical) has gone to Michael Bishop for Telarc’s spectacular recording of Puccini’s LA BOHÈME. Captured live at the opening of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 2007–08 Season, the 2-disc set pulsates with the excitement of an opening night and captures the vitality and presence of its stellar cast. Robert Spano, Music Director of ASO for the past seven years, produces a definitive version of the composer’s most popular opera. It is the first live recording of LA BOHÈME by an American conductor and orchestra in more than 50 years.

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CD – LA BOHÈME (Telarc International) – ROBERT SPANO, Conductor

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LA BOHÈME – Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and Soloists.
Robert Spano conducting.
Photo, Ashley Flew

The production was presented in concert style (a semi-staging) at the 12,000-seat VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATRE at Encore Park near Atlanta. The major players were in formal attire and performed in front of the orchestra with a bare minimum of props, and the chorus positioned above and behind the orchestra. Permanently affixed 15’ x 20’ screens on either side of the stage enhanced the visual experience. In the midst of the current recession and its immediate impact on the endowments of major symphonies and opera companies – including SAN FRANCISCO OPERA – as well as the various national, local and private funds which keep the bills paid, the major artists available, and the Tourist Trade wildly interested – most opera fans will agree that a given percentage of creatively conceived concert presentations by the resident Company are totally preferable to cut-rate/off-the-rack varieties, especially when they are borrowed and shipped from very far away. The ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA and its partnership with Telarc – along with the outstanding design of sound engineer Michael Bishop – have produced solid gold in LA BOHÈME.

MEET THE ARTISTS:

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NORAH AMSELLEM (Mimi). Photo, Cosimo Magliocca – MARCUS HADDOCK (Rodolfo).
Photo, Kristin Hoebermann

French soprano Norah Amsellem’s performance as “Mimi” is reminiscent of the young Mirella Freni. At last! A gorgeous Mimi that may be hovering on the brink of death, but is totally believable as the free-moving sexual being who can abandon the cold sheets of an impoverished poet and then land a titled gentleman with a higher thread count. Ms Amsellem has created a unique place for herself in the opera world, moving audiences with her soaring technique and dramatic intensity. Her young career includes engagements with some of the world’s most prestigious houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Vienna State Opera. Following her recent San Francisco Opera appearance as Musetta in LA BOHÈME, Ms Amsellem will next sing Violetta in La Traviata at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Teatro Municipal de Santiago, followed by the title role in Manon. Ms. Amsellem concludes her 2008 season as Liu in Turandot at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.

Tenor Marcus Haddock is ideal for the role of “Rodolfo”. Mr. Haddock opened the 2008 Season of San Francisco Opera opposite Dmitri Hvorostovsky in SIMON BOCCANEGRA. His bright and virile tenor is fabulously realized in the Act I aria, “Che gelida manina”. On stage, Mr. Haddock’s handsome appearance in combination with his aggressive and dramatic temperament provides the much-needed believability that Rodolfo is a jealous and abusive hothead. In January he will appear with San Diego Opera as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca.

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FABIO CAPITANUCCI (Marcello) — GEORGIA JARMAN (Musetta).
Photo, Dario Acosta

As Marcello, baritone Fabio Capitanucci shines throughout Act III. His opening scene with Mimi, “Speravo ti trovarto qui” (I hoped to find you here), is tender and sympathetic. He then rails against Rodolfo, rebuking him for his temper and obstinacy, but softens as he learns of Mimi’s life-threatening illness. Meanwhile, inside the tavern, his own on again/off again relationship with Musetta boils to a name-calling climax in the final quartette. “Vipera!” he shouts. “Strega! (Witch!).” Outside, in perfect harmony, Rodolfo and Mimi decide to get back together and hold-out until the spring thaw. Fabio Capitanucci’s most recent and future engagements include Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Eugene Onegin in Genoa, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro in Santiago and Madrid. Check out his appearance as “Marcello” in the recent DVD of LA BOHÈME directed by Giancarlo del Monaco.

Soprano Georgia Jarman is the perfect Musetta. Her aria in Act II – “Quando men’ vo soletta per la via” (When I walk alone in the street) – is one of the most well known arias in the soprano repertoire, and most every young soprano works at it along the way. Ms Jarman delivers it with perfect aplomb. In the 2008-09 season Ms Jarman returned to New Orleans Opera as Violetta in La Traviata, to Opera de Colombia as Mimi in La Bohème, and an additional appearance with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Carmina Burana. She also sings the Three Heroines in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Boston Lyric Opera and in a return to Polish National Opera, and Rozenn in Lalo’s Le roi d’Ys with the American Symphony Orchestra in her Avery Fisher Hall debut.

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Christopher Schaldenbrand (Schaunard), Fabio Capitanucci, Denis Sedov (Colline),
and Marcus Haddock.
Photo, Ashley Flew.

Click here to order Telarc’s production of La Bohème on-line: CD – LA BOHÈME

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CURTAIN CALL – LA BOHÈME – Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Soloists, July 26, 2008.
Photo, Ashley Flew

Visit Seán on YouTube:
Lorena Feijóo – A Look at “Giselle” with Seán Martinfield
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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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