Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Monday, December 07, 2009

Should the witch really get thrown in the oven each Christmas?

Or is it finally Hansel’s turn?
Tell the truth. How many of you are secretly fans of the witch?
Those singing children, nibbling on her house each year - I would be annoyed too. Wouldn’t you? As with so many operas - ‘Romeo, she’s only asleep!, Rigoletto, it’s your daughter!, Siegmund, don’t kiss her – it’s your sister! Witch, don’t peer into the oven - it’s a plot!’- our favorite characters never seem to hear us and are doomed each performance to suffer the same fate. Although there is much to say for reliability – especially in today’s turbulent world - I will go and cheer for the witch this year, glaring at any little kids in the audience who dare to challenge me. Hansel und Gretel at the Vienna Volksoper this December - Go Witch!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Learning to like Vienna

I think it is time to just come out with the truth: I don’t like Vienna. I am considering forming a self-help group on the subject. Surely there are others out there, and I am beginning to think that we are not incurable.

Vienna is, after all, the city of Sigmund Freud. So, I have decided to delve into the deeper, subconscious roots of my aversion to a city that I should, objectively speaking, adore. Vienna does offer two of the delights most central to my being: music and pastries. Admittedly, I am not tempted by the great Viennese institution of schnitzel, but that only means that I have more room for dessert.

So, consulting my knowledge of Sigmund’s theories, the subject of envy springs to mind. I mean, his idea that I might be spending my life in constant envy of men for their anatomical “advantage” doesn’t ring true with me. However, there is no doubt that I feel a visceral envy of anyone capable of sweeping across a dance floor in three-four time. The Viennese can gracefully spin through a room as though waltzing on air. New Yorkers can wiggle their bottoms and step side to side.

Could it be that I am suffering from sophistication-envy? A certain feeling of resentment towards people who have sachertorte with their coffee instead of glazed donuts?

On this theory, I am thinking that maybe I should try again. After all, maybe I can’t learn to waltz overnight, but I definitely know how to eat cake, and even if I wasn’t born in the city where the great works were written, I can still enjoy them with gusto.

So, I think I’ve found the ideal way to start my therapeutic initiation. The programme of the Theater an der Wien is full of productions that I am dying to see. And, it is located on the Naschmarkt, a garden of earthy delights for the snack-seeking opera goer. I am working on a couple of mantras to repeat to myself in case the illustrious history of the Theater an der Wien should start to awaken the green monster in me. The mere fact that Beethoven himself lived and composed in the building shouldn’t hinder my enjoyment of the evening. After all, I’m sure Beethoven would have like Manhattan, too, if he’d had the chance.

If that all goes well, I will dare to indulge in a concert and museum visit at the Liechtenstein Museum. Admittedly, this is getting into some very classy territory, but I think that I am up to the challenge. Even if the Metropolitan Museum doesn’t house a princely collection in a former palace, it did prepare me well for the world of European art. And the Liechtenstein Museum even has combination offers with music, art, and Viennese culinary specialties.

So, I am indulging on a self-help journey to Vienna, the City of Music (and strudel) and will enjoy some concerts of classical music in Vienna. I think that Freud would be proud.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All dressed up with someplace to go...

If you’ve vacationed in Barcelona, you have certainly experienced the city’s central boulevard, Las Ramblas. I was there the first time in my backpacking years, on a typically American, cram-it-all-in tour that also included Amsterdam, Munich, London, and a detour into the Sinai desert. Ah, youth.

In my backpacking days, an elegant evening out meant washing my hair (I was staying at pay-per-shower hostels) and putting on my darker Birkenstocks. So, if you have been to the Ramblas, you know that I still haven’t recovered from the overwhelming elegance I experienced there. Beginning around 10 pm, the population of Barcelona took to the street, in an exhibit of stylish ease and high-heel acrobatics that I could only assume resulted from years of intensive training. (I imagine here levels such as “crawling with grace”, “diaper-swaying toddler promenade”, etc.)

I was young and new to Europe, so people-watching (worshipping might be a better word) was activity enough for my petty budget. Yet, I did wonder in my own New Yorker way, where all these fashionistas were going. Did they really just get dressed up to walk up and down the street and look good? It did seem possible, and I chalked this up to the wonders of cultural diversity.

Lo, these many years later, I have discovered a reason to go back to the boardwalk, get dolled up, and join the fray. Right at the halfway point of Las Ramblas, a somewhat austere façade opens into the sumptuous interior of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, an opera house with a programme that rivals the most famous theatres of the world. The theatre is dedicated to presentating the core opera repertoire as well as rarely heard compositions, and the innovative productions are as chic as the Barcelona audience itself.

In my backpacking days, my idea of planning ahead involved opening the Let’s Go Europe tome before getting off the train in a new city. These days, my vacations are a lot shorter, my budget is a little broader, and I have even been known to throw a pair of medium-high-heels into my suitcase. So, I have checked out the fabulous list of performances at the Gran Teatre del Liceu on Classictic.com, and I am grabbing a no-frills flight to Barcelona.

I will never achieve the flair of the local Barcelona beauties, who must be born wearing heels and sunglasses. But I fully intend to don my flashiest mid-life-crisis-preview dress and sashay down the Ramblas with my e-Ticket in hand. After all, as much as I appreciate the rambling lifestyle, I find it a lot easier to get dressed up when I’ve got someplace to go.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

classictic has a new champion

In a tremendous upset, Stephan Mayer, technical director at Classictic.com beat out title-holder Roberto Maymo, sales manager, to become Classictic Ping Pong Champion 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nothing too serious...

Things have been a bit serious at the Classictic blog of late. Let’s have some fun. Pop star Michael Jackson has recently died. (OK, this is not yet the fun part). Michael has been compared by many to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Equally many are really bothered by these comparisons. I find it funny and will add my observations to the fray. Let’s call them M&M for brevity (Michael & Mozart of course).

So, what did they have in common? They both had pushy parents and talented siblings (sibling in Mozart’s case). I am pretty sure, however, that Nannerl never exposed her breast at a football game – so there are differences as well to note. They both had prodigious noses (Michael took care of that problem - not an option in Mozart’s day). They both loved elegant clothing, wore some pretty wild outfits and I suspect they both wore wigs, at least on occasion. Mozart was described by a contemporary as being ‘small, thin and pale’. I hope you will forgive me when I say that this also describes Michael in his later years. M&M also shared in common a certain lack of financial prowess. And, (surprise!) both M&M were dancers; although Mozart might not have been doing the Moonwalk – he started out often on stage as a dancer and was very good at it, apparently. Noting again a final difference between the two let’s look at their funerals; for Mozart a pauper’s grave and a golden casket for Michael (honestly, whose idea was that anyway?).

Both Michael Jackson and W.A. Mozart were amazing child prodigies, stunning their worlds with music and theatric innovations. Each broke existing barriers with originality and great talent and both sadly died at a young age. Michael with ‘Thriller’ ushered in the age of MTV and, as a child of the 80’s, I will be forever grateful to him for that alone. Mozart was/is just plain thrilling. Michael was archetypal of 80’s pop-rock as Mozart is the archetypal example of the classical music era. Composers have been studying his scores since Beethoven and Mozart has endured for over 200 years as one of our best-loved composers. We will have to wait and see what Michael’s legacy will be, but certainly he will have a place in music history. At Classictic we do not have any concerts of Michael Jackson on offer – he is yet to be made ‘Classic’ - but check out these great Mozart programs and try to imagine ‘Wolfie’ doing the Moonwalk.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Opera America Conference, April 2009

Somewhat late in posting about this great week in Houston but perhaps the time to reflect will improve my post… Houston as a city presented some challenges for this Berliner. The conference was held in the very nice Hyatt Regency, my room overlooking the famed (infamous) Enron buildings. However, the urban decay of downtown Houston was not hidden even by these massive glass towers. On my few excursions from the hotel and into the downtown area I was constantly approached by beggars of all sorts. It was not pleasant, really rather disconcerting regarding the actual economic state of affairs of the capital of Texas. There were also some unfortunate coincidences and acts of nature while there- fate, I suppose. The city experienced flooding during that week, with one news report commenting on alligators in the streets in some parts of town. To add to the fun, we had the Swine Flu outbreak- which had Houston firmly in its grips- as I was shaking hands all day with fellow delegates. I believe we all remained Swine-Flu-free and I did not actually experience any alligators on the streets myself, (just the panhandlers) but the news reports were enough to keep me happily in the hotel and the conference itself kept me quite busy.
I very much enjoyed experiencing the Houston Grand Opera. It is a wonderful house, big in the way that one would expect of a Texan opera house, really generous in space and feeling, excellent acoustics as well. Conference attendees were offered the opportunity to attend the premiere of the Andre Previn opera, Brief Encounter, beautifully composed and performed, a definite highlight.
The southern reputation for gracious hospitality was not tarnished by this week of ‘meet and greet’, quite the contrary, my (high) expectations there were exceeded. The very charming and classical music savvy mayor of Houston, Bill White, greeted the delegation at the opening session with an excellent address which was both humorous and interesting. One thing that did bother me in his remarks was a repeated reference to the European classical music world, inferring some sort of competition between it and the American classical music colleagues. I do not feel this at all, and did not receive this impression from other, American, delegates. Perhaps we should invite Mayor White for a visit to Berlin. Alex Ross, author of The Rest is Noise, made the opening keynote address which was fascinating and sent me running for more books by him- really an excellent mind there; a leading thinker on the classical music scene today, worldwide. And Opera America’s ebullient President and CEO, Marc A. Scorca, well known for his wit, energy and dedication to all things opera, got things going on an upbeat… (a terrible pun for musicians, forgive me!)… note. The long week-end was filled with fascinating seminars on the various aspects of keeping an opera company alive and well in today’s tough economic climate as well as artistic inspirations and a super exchange of ideas between professionals from around the world, opera companies small and large. The theme of ‘Making Opera Matter’, or the relevance of opera in today’s world, was widely explored. A special applause to the team (staff) of Opera America; those guys were so great- , helpful and a ton of fun. They organized a super convention and I am looking forward to the next one in LA.
Classictic attended the Opera American Convention as both delegate and sponsor and is happy to support the arts in America in this way.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What they are saying-

I don’t often have time to check the travel blogs, which are as interesting as they are numerous – but when I do manage to check in I very much enjoy finding these nice comments about Classictic from people all over the world.
This from Rick Steves, Italy 2009, Favorite Discoveries or Tips:
"Classicatic.com...We booked a dinner and an Opera event in Florence. Enjoyed a delicious five course Italian dinner with wine at a traditional restaurant near Ponte Vecchio then walked about a block to the theater where we enjoyed a four act presentation of LaBoheme. What a magical evening. The meal was terrific in both taste and presentation and the music was very powerful. Because we booked early our reserve seat for the opera was front row center less than ten feet from the actors. This was the finest live show that I have ever experienced. I had never seen or heard anything like it in the past and don't expect to witness anything like it again!! I was totally WOWed!! Wonderful, talented actors!!!
Furnacefighter in Philadelphia, PA USA 03/20/2009"

Very curious to know what a Furnace Fighter actually does and glad that he is also an opera fan! I highly recommend the Rick Steves website and guidebooks, informative, practical and upbeat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Opera Europe Conference. Barcelona, April 2009

Gran Teatro del Liceu, in the charming city of Barcelona, was host last April to the Opera Europa Conference. Classictic was there, not just as delegate but also as sponsor and speaker. I take a minute now- in the cool, April-like weather of the Berlin interpretation of summer, to reflect.

The week presented a great opportunity for an exchange of ideas and thoughts with the super busy leaders of opera houses throughout Europe. Theme for this gathering was Creativity and Innovation, with a consistent focus on strategies to promote success/survival for and in the future. In these challenging economic times, where arts are often considered a luxury and quickly cut from the budget of a sponsor or patron, these sessions were lively, well attended and all very interesting. I would like to commend the members of Opera Europa for their open-eyed yet optimistic approach to keeping their opera houses alive in the face of the harsh economic realities we are faced with in today’s global market. It is not a bad thing to take a moment and reassess - as one is required to do in such a crisis. The opera houses appeared ready to me, ready to open themselves to new ideas and technologies without sacrificing their strong traditions, keen to maintain their audience bases and to grow with younger generations.

Speaking of young: an additional and wonderful focus in the Convention, also looking to the future, was placed on the talented group of Young Participants. I was completely taken by the depths of creativity and long-term plans, coupled with knowledge of the extensive history of opera and great talent which I found within this group of eloquent young people. They are working very hard and plan to keep opera alive and vibrant for many generations to come.

Classictic was asked to speak and present information to the delegates in a Panel Presentation on Internet Marketing for the Performing Arts which was very well attended and received. Continuing with the theme of opening themselves to new technologies, the possibility of marketing their performances to a world-wide audience on the multi-lingual Classictic website was of great interest to many. The concept of ‘Opera Tourism’ was to some delegates a ‘new’ concept. This group of travelling music lovers is one of the many client groups that Classictic is happy to service. There are, at any given time, hundreds of operas to choose from throughout Europe and as far away as Bangkok on the Classictic portal. Soon to come: North American Opera houses.

Classictic is looking forward to meeting our opera colleagues at the Opera Europa Convention in Budapest next fall.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What they are saying

It is always a pleasure to read of a great time had by Classictic customers at events found and purchased on the portal. The Rick Steves' Europe: Guidebook - offers lots of fun stories and optimistic tips for travelers. A recent contributor to the section: Italy 2009, Favorite Discoveries or Tips recalled a fantastic dinner and opera event enjoyed while in Florence and found through Classictic. To find your own special evening in Florence check the Classictic Special on Florentine Operas and enjoy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Paris in the Springtime and Mahler in Salle Pleyel

Christoph Eschenbach conducts the Orchestre de Paris for an all Mahler program in the newly renovated Salle Pleyel on April 8th and 9th. The program, consisting of Mahler's Rückert Lieder and
Symphony n. 4 in G major will feature soprano Christine Schäfer - a wonderful combination of place, artistry and composition! Read more venue and artist information on the Classictic.com website.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Opera Days and Opera Forum

Classictic is delighted to support Opera in Europe through its sponsorship of the upcoming European Opera Forum, which takes place in Barcelona, and through Media Sponsorship of the European Opera Days project, taking place this May in Europe.

The Barcelona Forum will focus on creativity and innovation in the world of opera today. Classictic will participate in a panel to discuss the uses of internet marketing for the promotion of the arts in general and specifically for the developement of new audience members.

The European Opera Days is an exciting project taking place in opera houses throughout Europe; doors are open to the public and you are invited to participate in many different ways and to (re) discover the excitement of the opera! For specific information as to the Opera Days activites in your area please click on the link above.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Classictic welcomes Chicago Chamber Musicians

Since its founding in 1986, The Chicago Chamber Musicians ensemble has become the city's leading chamber music organization, sharing the joy of music with thousands of individuals every year. Information, tickets and schedules for the exciting and varied programs of the Chicago Chamber Musicians can now be seen at Classictic.com.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Interesting Things...

Check the Musical America Press Releases for another great source of information on Classictic.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What they are saying

Nice to note that people have had some great results with Concerts and Events in Italy which they found on www.classictic.com. Also a pleasure to see when customers have reported this information back to fellow travellers on the various web forums. I just read of one customer who had a really great time at his opera event in the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice. He reported back on his trip in the Trip Advisor Venice Forum.

If you are heading to Venice for Carnival I am happy to recommend Il Barbiere di Siviglia, of Rossini, also taking place at the spectacular Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista. On the 21st of February admission is at 19:00 in anticipation of the Carnival Events and you also will enjoy typical Italian cakes and a glass of sparkling wine while there. Here's the link, http://www.classictic.com/en/Search/Italy/Venice/2009-02-10/Scuola-Grande-di-San-Giovanni-Evangelista

Monday, January 19, 2009

New York, New York

Classictic.com is delighted to welcome Bargemusic in New York City to the website. What could be better than a top quality chamber music concert presented in the dramatic setting of a beautifully appointed barge tethered at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge? With the skyline of lower Manhattan in the background your Big Apple experience is complete. Details, schedule and ticket information can be found at: http://www.classictic.com/en/Search/USA/New-York/2009-01-19