CD: GREAT STRAUSS SCENES – Christine Brewer, Soprano

Bass Eric Owens joins Conductor Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Bay Area opera fans treasure soprano Christine Brewer as Wagner’s “Isolde” from her spectacular appearances during the 2006 Season at San Francisco Opera. The production was conducted by Donald Runnicles, who also stood at the podium for his 50th Birthday Concert conducting Ms Brewer in the “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde. The masterful duo are again united with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a lush recital CD, Great Strauss Scenes. Bass Eric Owens joins the soprano as “Orestes” in the Recognition Scene from Strauss’ Elektra. Their exchange is dramatically effective and vocally splendid. Mr. Owens’ powerful vocals and commanding stage presence climaxed as “Porgy” in SF Opera’s Summer 2009 presentation of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

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Quite possibly the most successful opera composer of the 20th century, Richard Strauss created ultimately dynamic roles for his soprano heroines. Not just the “Marschallin” in Der Rosenkavalier, but many more – from Salome and Elektra to the “Countess” in Capriccio. The outstanding singers of each generation have loved to take on these powerful roles, each of which portrays a woman taking control of her own destiny, while Strauss’s orchestra swirls around her, supporting the vocal line, recalling the backstory, and unfolding the immense psychological underpinnings. Christine Brewer possesses the ideal combination of invincible vocal strength and iridescent sweetness of tone. The three scenes from Elektra, Die Frau Ohne Schatten, and Salome explore her dynamic range and theatrical versatility.

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ERIC OWENS, Bass

American bass-baritone Eric Owens has carved a unique place in the contemporary opera world as both an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. Equally at home in concert, recital and opera performances, Owens continues to bring his powerful poise, expansive voice and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world. Eric Owens opens the 2010-2011 season of the Metropolitan Opera as “Alberich” in Das Rheingold in a new production by Robert Lepage, conducted by James Levine. Owens’s career operatic highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut as “Lodovico” in Otello conducted by Donald Runnicles.

Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles has been in partnership with Music Di­rector Robert Spano in leading the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 2001. Runnicles served as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the San Francisco Opera from 1992 until 2009 when he became General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra. He also serves as Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival. Runnicles is internationally acclaimed for his passionate renderings of the works of Wagner and Strauss. In 2011 he returns to SF Opera to conduct Wagner’s complete Ring of the Nibeliung.

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DONALD RUNNICLES

Click here to order CD on-line: Great Strauss Scenes
Tracklisting:
ELEKTRA, Op. 58: Recognition Scene; aria, “Orest! Orest!” (20:48)
CAPRICCIO, Op. 85: Moonlight Interlude (3:02)
DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN, Op. 65: Imprisonment Scene; aria, “Schweigt doch, ihr Stimmen” (10:12)
SALOME, Op. 54: Dance of the Seven Veils (8:58)
SALOME, Final Scene, “Ah! du wolltest mich nicht deinen Mund küssenm lassen, Jochanaan!” (15:54)

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, 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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