One of the most revelatory discoveries when the Dixie Chicks toured the United States for the first time in ten years was that they had never sounded better.
In his latest Decca DVD release, bel canto star Juan Diego Flórez undertakes the role of Elvino in Bellini’s romantic drama, playing opposite the mercurial French soprano, Natalie Dessay, in the Met’s striking, modern-dress production from March 2009. Bellini’s romantic opera La Sonnambula (1831), hinges on the love and misunderstanding between Elvino and Amina (the ‘sleepwalker’ of the title). Discovered in the bedroom of Rodolfo, Amina is assumed to have been unfaithful, and Elvino cancels their wedding. But in the dramatic final scene, he witnesses Amina sleepwalking, understands her innocence, and all ends happily. Mary Zimmerman’s production plays with the dual realities of a rehearsal of the opera and a performance of the opera itself.
One of the most revelatory discoveries when the Dixie Chicks toured the United States for the first time in ten years was that they had never sounded better….
It's hard to call The Globe Sessions a stumble, but its stripped-down, straightforwardness paled in comparison to the dark pop-culture kaleidoscope of Sheryl Crow's eponymous second album. That's why C'mon, C'mon, Crow's long-delayed fourth album, is such a delight – it's the sunny flip side of that masterpiece, a skillful synthesis of classic rock and modern sensibilities that's pretty irresistible. Crow has turned into the professional she always acted she was – she not only crafts songs impeccably, she knows how to record them, filling the record with interesting sonic details, whether it's the Steve Miller-styled "woo hoo"s on "Steve McQueen" or subtle Mellotrons on "Over You."
In the 1960s and '70s there was growing concern within Celtic music circles that the perceived lack of interest and participation could jeopardize the future of that tradition. With the arrival and subsequent success of artists like Altan, Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, and Ashley MacIsaac, those worries amount to nothing but a distant memory. The educational opportunities are now abundant, the development of talent is ongoing, and the fruits of these efforts are being harvested routinely. One of the 1990s' most exciting and gifted fiddlers is Natalie MacMaster from Cape Breton, the wonderfully Celtic-rich region of Nova Scotia.