Performed by Nicole Mitchell.
Uploaded by Cedric Cannon.
Aria of the Week #89: "Way By an' By" by B. Jackson-King.
Performed by Nicole Mitchell.
Uploaded by Cedric Cannon.
Karen Anne Carpenter (March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983) was an American singer and drummer. She and her brother, Richard, formed the 1970s duo Carpenters. Although her skills as a drummer earned admiration from drumming luminaries and peers, she is best known for her vocal performances. She had a contralto vocal range.
Carpenter suffered from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder which was little known at the time. She died at age 32 from heart failure caused by complications related to her illness. Carpenter's death led to increased visibility and awareness of eating disorders.
From 1965 to 1968 Karen, her brother Richard, and his college friend Wes Jacobs, a bassist and tuba player, formed The Richard Carpenter Trio. The band played jazz at numerous nightclubs and also appeared on the TV talent show Your All-American College Show. Karen, Richard and other musicians, including Gary Sims and John Bettis, also performed as an ensemble known as Spectrum. Spectrum focused on a harmonious and vocal sound, and recorded many demo tapes in the garage studio of friend and bassistJoe Osborn. Many of those tapes were rejected. According to former Carpenters member John Bettis, those rejections "took their toll." The tapes of the original sessions were lost in a fire at Joe Osborn's house, and the surviving versions of those early songs exist only as fragile acetate reference discs. Finally A&M Records signed the Carpenters to a recording contract in 1969. Karen sang most of the songs on the band's first album, Offering (later retitled Ticket to Ride), and her brother wrote 10 out of the album's 13 songs. The issued single (later the title track), which was a cover of a Beatles song, became their first single; it reached #54 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their next album, 1970's Close to You, featured two massive hit singles: "(They Long to Be) Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun". They peaked at #1 and #2, respectively, on the Hot 100.
Carpenter started out as both the group's drummer and lead singer, and she originally sang all her vocals from behind the drum set. Because at 5 feet 4 inches tall it was difficult for people in the audience to see her behind her drum kit, she was eventually persuaded to stand at the microphone to sing the band's hits while another musician played the drums. (Former Disney Mouseketeer Cubby O'Brien served as the band's other drummer for many years.) After the release of Now & Then in 1973, the albums tended to have Carpenter singing more and drumming less. At this time her brother developed an addiction to Quaaludes. The Carpenters frequently cancelled tour dates, and they stopped touring altogether after their September 4, 1978, concert at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The Carpenters' Very First TV Special was Richard and Karen Carpenter's very first television special, aired December 8, 1976. In 1980, she performed a medley of standards in a duet with Ella Fitzgerald on the Carpenters' television program Music, Music, Music. In 1981 after the release of the Made in America album (which turned out to be their last), the Carpenters returned to the stage and did some tour dates, including their final live performance in Brazil.
In addition to being a drummer and a singer, Karen Carpenter could also play the electric bass guitar. She played bass guitar on two songs on Offering/Ticket to Ride (the Carpenters first album released by A&M). The two songs were All of My Life and Eve. Although Karen's guitar playing is heard on the original album(s), Richard remixed both songs (as he has done with almost every Carpenters song), and Joe Osborne's guitar playing was substituted for later 'greatest hits' releases.
On February 4, 1983, less than a month before her 33rd birthday, Carpenter intended to sign papers making her divorce with Tom Burris official. Shortly after waking up, Carpenter collapsed in her bedroom at her parents' home in Downey, California. Paramedics called to the scene by Karen's mother found her heart beating once every 10 seconds. She was taken to nearby Downey Community Hospital for treatment, where - by then in full cardiac arrest - she was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.
Gwendolyn Brown has been selected as a semi-finalist in both the Opera and Art Song divisions of The American Prize
Dramatic Contralto Gwendolyn Brown has been selected as a semi-finalist in both the Opera and Art Song divisions of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts.
Gwen's unique voice, with over three octaves in range from Ab2 to C6, has been described as having "dramatic power and vocal depth," a "powerful voice [that] was inspiring and uplifting," "a transfixing force of nature," and "one of the richest voices I have ever heard, in some instances singing comfortably in what would be considered the tenor range."
Gwen has had a fantastic 2014-15 season, with performances as Maria in Lyric Opera of Chicago's Porgy and Bess; the premier of a new work by Ethan Gans-Morse entitled The Canticle of the Black Madonna in Portland, Oregon; a Concert version of Porgy and Bess for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, in the role of the Strawberry Woman; and as the Alto Soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for Madison Symphony Orchestra.
It also saw the release on CD of Anne LeBaron's Crescent City, which sees Gwen in the staring role as Marie Leveau.
I am sure Gwen will make an astonishing impact in both the semi-final, and the final of The American Prize competition!
Dramatic Contralto Sharmay Musacchio will make her début as Dame Carruthers in Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeoman of the Guard with Winter Opera St.Louis as part of its Winter 2015 season.
As mentioned in an earlier post, Sharmay will perform in the role of "Mother" in Martinů's opera Tears of the Knife (Slzy nože), with Bodhi Tree Concerts, starting on 23rd July, for five performances.
She will also, from 12th September, be taking on the role of Mrs. Quickly in Pacific Opera Project's production of Falstaff.
All of this is great news for Sharmay, coming as it does of the back of successful performances as Zia Principessa in the the San Diego Opera fundraiser production of Puccini's Suor Angelica, and as Eunice in Townsend Opera and Fresno Grand Opera's joint production of André Previn's opera A Streetcar Named Desire.
Aria of the Week #88: "Sorgi omai dal fango immondo" by G. Bononcini.
Performed by Alice Habellion.
Uploaded by sogno barocco.
This week's Contralto Update features Bally Prell.
Bally Prell wass a German Contralto Profondo from Munich. She was a performer and folk singer who performed mainly in the Baverian dialect. Her unusually dark and resonant tone allowed her to sing arias normally associated with the Lyric Tenor fach.
Check out her pages and the video below.
Aria of the Week #87: Carmen Final Scene "C'est Toi? C'est moi!" by G. Bizet.
Performed by Sanja Anastasia.
Score: IMSLP (pg 118 of viewer).
Uploaded by napoleoncezar789.
Ten new videos have been added to Dilyara Muravitskaya's (Диляра Муравицкая) Contralto Corner page.
These videos are from a recital, and include arias such as "Re dell'abisso affrettati," "Fac ut portem," and "O don fatale."
I have also updated Dilyara's page from the short profile to a full profile, which includes an Introduction and Bibliography page, a page for Articles, Websites & Resources, and a page for YouTube Videos.
Check out her pages, and the video below.
Two new videos have been added to Susanna Sundberg's Contralto Corner page.
One is a marvellous interpretation of "Thou Art Gone Up On High" from Handel's Messiah, while the other is a scene from Verdi's Falstaff.
Please visit her pages, and check out the video below.
Further to Tanja's fantastic series of performances in Oper Frankfurt's 2015-16 season, I am please to announce that three further European performances in the coming season:
From the 2nd to the 11th October 2015, Tanja will take on the roles of Judith and Mother in Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse's productions of Bluebeard's Castle and Il Prigioniero respectively.
At Theater an der Wien from the 18th April, she will perform the role of Clarion in Strauss' Capriccio. It was in this role that she made her stunning last-minute ROH début, which was the first time I heard her perform live.
Finally, in Bilbao on the 26th and 27th May, Tanja will take part in an exciting concert featuring music from Berlioz's La mort de Cléopatre.
This is a fantastic year for Tanja, and I hope some of the readers of this website will be able to support her by attending some of her performances!