Merry Christmas to you all!

As the rain pours down and washes away any remaining hope of a white Christmas and a huge pile of presents sits temptingly downstairs, I would like to quickly thank you all for reading my blog – I hope you all like it so far! And so all that remains for me to say is:

Merry Christmas to all and to all

a good night!

  We will celebrate this year with some beautiful Diana Damrau Christmas carols:

Met HD Broadcast – Un Ballo in Maschera

On Sunday, I went to see my first ever Met HD broadcast- an repeat of Un ballo in maschera. The cinema was, disappointingly, very empty and I was the youngest person there by about 40 years, which I thought was quite sad. This might have been partly because the cinema doesn’t advertise their Met broadcasts very much and I had some difficulty finding out if the Met performances were being shown in my town at all!

The singing was all very good, although the singer who stood out a tiny bit for me was Sondra Radvanovsky. She managed to get the emotions across that little bit more simply and strongly than the others. However, everyone performed wonderfully and, I should add, my judging may not be completely fair, as I have never listened to this opera before and so am not sure this particular performance compared with others.

The staging, however, I did have some more clear thoughts on. In this production, it had been returned from the setting fo Boston to that of Sweden, where it fits in much better. There were some parts of this production I liked, and some that I didn’t. The idea of the painting of the Fall of Icarus worked well enough and it was clear what it symbolized: the king who believed he could not be assassinated. I didn’t, however, see this theme being used in any other way except from the painting and also in the pageboy Oscar, played by Kathleen Kim, who wore white wings in some parts of the opera. I couldn’t understand what relevance this had or how it was meant to tie in to anything else. In terms of acting, Dmitri Hvorostovsky was particularly excellent as the troubled Renato.

My main irritation though, was the camera direction. There were several moments when it focused on the principals standing around and doing nothing, when the chorus appeared to be doing something worth seeing. They didn’t seem to realise that we might want to see anything other than close ups of the lead singers’ faces, whether they were singing or not.

Overall, a good performance by all, although the production didn’t quite seem to know its purpose. The intervals were interesting, especially watching  Joyce Didonato rehearsing for what promises to be a wonderful performance of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda.

‘Tis the season of Christmas shopping


This is my list of the best places to buy gifts for your fellow opera lovers (or treat yourself!)

Opera Bracelets

This is a wonderfully creative idea and one of these would be a very unique and special present. Each bracelet is designed using colours and charms to represent an opera, aria or character. There is a wide selection, so you can probably find any major opera or character there. Ballet bracelets are also available.

Pearl and ruby red beads represent Act 3 of Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermoor: Il dolce suono. Driven to the murder of Arturo, by the marriage arranged by her brother Ernico, Lucia hallucinates that she will be married now to her love Edgardo.

Photo from the Opera Bracelets website. This bracelet represents Lucia, from Lucia di Lammermoor. The Celtic pattern represents the Scottish setting, the dagger and blood represent her madness and the murder and the white beads symbolise her wedding.

Babetta’s World

Another lovely creative online store selling unique gifts. Watches, books, pillows, scarves and stationery are all available. Just admit it, you’ve always wanted to adorn your home with a cushion with a drawing of Turandot and Calaf kissing on it.

Met Opera Shop

The Met Shop has pretty much everything you could ever want, plus some more. There is something for everyone here, somewhere among the DVDs, CDs, books, clothing, autographed items, handbags, umbrellas, exclusive jewelry, stationery, toys, ornaments, kitchen equipment and wall art. Shop by type of item or by opera and you are bound to find something you know your loved one will adore. I personally have fallen for this La Bohème bracelet.

Photo from the Met Opera Shop website.

Opera Gifts

Pick one of the opera-themed images here and get it on a mug, t-shirt, tote bag, phone case, blanket, card, hoodie, mousepad, pillow, etc.

Seattle Opera

For the opera lover who has everything. Some interesting things here, from the slightly more sane (Lucia di Lammermoor or Don Quixote poster) to things like this:

Photo from the Seattle Opera website


There are so many great books about opera and by opera singers, so it’s difficult to pick out just a few that sound good. But anyway:


The Inner Voice – The Making of a Singer

Beverly: An Autobiography

Notes from a Small Soprano

A Prima Donna’s Progress

Nicolai Gedda: My Life and Art


Losing the Plot in Opera (contains some interesting views and anecdotes but rather assumes that the reader is fairly new to opera)

Opera Anecdotes

Wagner Moments

Placido Domingo – My Operatic Roles

Quotable Opera

Opera Antics and Anecdotes

Great Operatic Disasters and Even Greater Operatic Disasters

True Tales from the Mad, Mad World of Opera

The Good Opera Guide

PS These are my personal ideas, most of these books are not very technical or involved from the point of view of the performers. This is a small selection, there are lots more books like this out there which may be more suited to you or someone you want to give them to.

CDs and DVDs

Lots of wonderful new CDs and DVDs have come out that are worth having. Have a look around on Amazon or at a local record shop.


And of course, nothing beats just a ticket to go to a live opera or to see one at the cinema.

Happy Christmas shopping everyone! Any other ideas you would like to share, please mention them in the comments!

Weekly Video #13

For the second of my catch-up videos, here is a video to lighten your life and remind you that however much opera singers may seem to be ‘divas’, they are in fact mortal, some of them embarrassingly so. Just a reminder to all of you who, like me, cannot dance as well as Anna or Elinayou’re not alone.

Link here. (Embedding not allowed for this one)

Photo credits: Sheila Rock Photography