As the leaves burst into the colors of autumn, WGBH's classical music service moves into the new season and beyond with a new name: Classical New England, reflecting a growing service that includes 99.5 Boston-NH, 89.7 HD-2 Boston, 96.3 Beacon Hill, 89.5 Nantucket, and, through a new relationship with Bryant University, 88.7 Providence.
With our new name, a new weekday schedule brings you more hours of local voices and music, and expanded Boston Symphony Orchestra coverage enlivens your weekends as never before.
Laura Carlo welcomes you to the day with a lively mix of classical music, beginning at 5am and now staying with you for the morning hours until 10am. Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart continues to bring his own impressions and knowledge to Keith's Classical Corner each morning at 8:30.
Alan McLellan joins you at 10am with great classics for the heart of the day. At noon, you'll hear a new segment we call Café Europa, with recent, unique, and commercially unavailable concert performances from Berlin's Philharmonie, Vienna's Musikverein, London's Barbican Center, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, and other great concert halls of Europe.
At 2pm Cathy Fuller brings you her signature warmth and charm, offering a perfect accompaniment to the late afternoon and early evening. Members of Boston's vibrant musical community as well as visiting artists from around the world join Cathy in our Fraser Performance Studio each Friday for Drive Time Live, connecting you with the spontaneity of live performance. In addition, listen for Cathy each Sunday at 6pm on Arias and Barcarolles.
At 7pm, Classical New England welcomes Performance Today to the airwaves. Host Fred Child brings you concert performances from around the world, along with interviews and features that offer unique insight into the music and today's great performers.
James David Jacobs takes over the nighttime mic at 9pm, Monday-Thursday, with a unique blend of music old, new, and unexpected, and guaranteed to be an ideal late-night companion. On Fridays at 9pm, enjoy the nation's only bilingual classical music program, Concierto, as host Frank Dominguez invites you into the world of classical music as reflected by Latin American composers and performers.
Our 60 year relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra continues and deepens, with live broadcasts of every Saturday evening performance by the BSO with host Ron Della Chiesa, now repeated on Sunday afternoons at 1pm, following New England Summer Festivals. In addition, BSO concerts will be available for on demand listening at our BSO Tanglewood Channel, where you can hear the BSO 24/7.
On weekdays, listen for BSO broadcast producer Brian Bell in previews of upcoming concerts, and Brian's encyclopedic knowledge of BSO history as heard on BSO on Record can now be heard twice as much, with two episodes airing each Saturday night beginning at 10pm, following our live BSO broadcasts.
Brian McCreath continues to host The Bach Hour on Sundays at 6am and 5pm, and listen for his features, stories, and interviews in regular arts and culture reports from around the region, to be heard on weekdays and weekends.
The Classical New England staff also expands with the addition of Music Director Cheryl Willoughby. A public broadcasting veteran, Willoughby comes to WGBH from Vermont Public Radio, where she served as Music Director and Director of Programming for VPR Classical.
On October 6, public broadcaster WGBH and Bryant University will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and live radio broadcasts to mark their collaboration in bringing full-time classical music to Rhode Island.
In early September, the University’s radio station, WJMF 88.7FM, began re-transmitting the signal from WGBH’s Classical New England, returning round-the-clock classical broadcasts to the Providence area.
“We are delighted that we can celebrate this collaboration in bringing classical music back to Rhode Island,” said Benjamin K. Roe, Managing Director of WGBH’s Classical New England. “Having the ability to broadcast live from Bryant University and celebrate this technology and education initiative is a proud moment for us and our listeners.”
Bryant’s student-run radio station now runs on several new technology platforms, including WJMF HD-2, smartphone applications, and uses one of WGBH’s mobile DTV channels. Bryant’s WJMF is the first student-run station in the region to be available on the groundbreaking new mobile service. Additionally, Bryant students now have the opportunity to learn from the best digital and broadcast technology experts in the business working alongside WGBH technicians.
“Our students could not be more excited over this technological overhaul of the station,” said Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley. “This collaboration not only brings WGBH’s Classical New England to Rhode Island, but affirms Bryant University as a media technology leader in the region.”
“This ground-breaking collaboration gives us the unique opportunity to become pioneers in digital broadcasting by enabling a multiplatform approach,” said WJMF General Manager Ricky McLaughlin '12 of Hudson, N.H. “Although it moves WJMF’s traditional open-format student programming off of the analog FM dial, this phenomenal opportunity allows us to reach an increasingly national audience, especially as the technology continues to develop.”
On October 6, Classical New England will broadcast two live programs from the WJMF studios with classical hosts Laura Carlo (6-10am), and Cathy Fuller (2-6pm). At noon, WGBH and Bryant University leaders will gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on campus, followed by an evening reception in Providence marking the historic collaboration.
This Labor Day weekend, 99.5 WCRB Classical New England again joins WGBH 2 and WGBX 44 to present our annual Opera Bash, featuring some of the finest operas ever heard on the planet!
Deborah Voight sings in the Metropolitan Opera's production of La Fanciulla del West, commemorating
the 100th anniversary of the opera's 1910 world premiere at the Met.
On television, revel in more than 30 solid hours of opera. Meanwhile, 99.5 WCRB will bring you special “Opera Without Words” programming all weekend long, as well as some of our stunning operatic productions made right here in the Hub of the Universe.
Sponsorship of Opera Bash is generously provided by Boston Lyric Opera.
Mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung
Saturday, August 31
12pm on WGBX 44
Puccini: La Fanciulla del West
A commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the opera's 1910 world premiere at the Met. Deborah Voigt sings the role of Minnie.
Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
Leading Met stars take on the central roles in Verdi's classic drama of political intrigue and thwarted romance: Marcelo Álvarez as the ill-fated King Gustavo III; Dmitri Hvorostovsky as his best friend and eventual rival, Count Anckarström; and Sondra Radvanovsky as Amelia, Anckarström’s wife and the object of the king’s secret passion. Kathleen Kim sings the coloratura role of Oscar and Stephanie Blythe is fortune-teller Mme. Ulrica Arvidsson.
7pm on 99.5 WCRB
BSO: All-Wagner program It’s a Wagner double bill on our Saturday night broadcasts of the BSO, beginning with an encore presentation of a concert featuring some of the most thrilling music from Wagner’s operas, including selections from Götterdämmerung, Parsifal, Lohengrin and Tristan und Isolde. Italian conductor Daniele Gatti conducts the BSO in concert at Symphony Hall with mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung as featured soloist.
It’s already being discussed as one of the most memorable nights of music in Tanglewood’s storied history: the steamy night in July when Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel offered a mesmerizing account of Wotan in Act III of Die Walküre, the second of Wagner’s four-opera Ring cycle. Terfel heads up an outstanding cast that includes soprano Katarina Dalayman as Brünnhilde, soprano Amber Wagner as Sieglinde and German conductor Lothar Koenigs, making his Boston Symphony debut.
Midnight on WGBH 2
Verdi: Don Carlo A Spanish prince falls for the French princess he's supposed to marry as part of a Spanish-French peace treaty, only to have his father decide to wed her himself.
Sunday, September 1
12pm on WGBX 44
Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Angela Meade in Ernani.
Marco Armiliato conducts Verdi’s thrilling early gem, featuring Marcello Giordani in the title role. Angela Meade takes center stage as Elvira, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Ferruccio Furlanetto rounding out the cast in Pier Luigi Samaratini’s colorful production.
2pm on 99.5 WCRB
Boston Early Music Festival 2013
This standout production, recorded in concert at the Cutler Majestic Theatre by 99.5 WCRB, includes sopranos Ulrike Hofbauer as Almira and Amanda Forsythe as Edilia, tenor Colin Balzer as Fernando, and baritone Tyler Duncan as Raymondo. Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs are musical directors, and Robert Mealy leads the splendid Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra.
2:30pm on WGBX 44
Almira at The Boston Early Music Festival
Conducted by Fabio Luisi and starring Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried, and Bryn Terfel as The Wanderer, the third opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle focuses on the young hero Siegfried, who grows up in the wilderness, raised by Alberich’s conniving brother Mime. He puts together the broken pieces of the sword Nothung, uses it to slay the fearsome dragon Fafner, and takes the ring for himself. To fulfill his destiny, he must overcome one more opponent—Wotan, now disguised as the Wanderer, who knows the world of the gods is coming to an end—and cross through the magic fire to awaken his true love, Brünnhilde.
6pm on 99.5 WCRB Together in Song: The Chorus…At the Opera! Host Anthony-Trecek King explores the phenomenon of choral music in the opera house…where some of the most magical moments are not created by the Prima Donna Diva or the handsome heroic tenor, but by the peasants, prisoners, orphans, soldiers and slaves, poorly-lit, scruffily-clad, and performing a vital musical role. Featuring some great choral moments from Monteverdi all the way to the “Moonrise Kingdom” music of Benjamin Britten.
7pm on WGBX 44
Donizetti: Don Pasquale Anna Netrebko stars as Norina, the irresistible and clever romantic heroine of Donizetti’s comic opera. James Levine, in his first-ever performances of this opera, conducts a cast that also features Matthew Polenzani as the lovelorn Ernesto, Mariusz Kwiecien as the duplicitous Dr. Malatesta, and John Del Carlo as the title character. Renowned Austrian director Otto Schenk returns to the Met to direct the first revival of his production, which The New York Times praised as “wonderful” and “insightful” when it premiered in 2006.
7pm on 99.5 WCRB
Arias and Barcarolles: Natalie Dessay
Host Cathy Fuller plays and profiles some of the great arias by soprano Natalie Dessay, appearing earlier on Opera Bash in Handel's Guilo Cesare, who recently announced she's quitting the opera house for the stage, screen, and concert tours.
7:30pm on 99.5 WCRB
Handel: Agrippina World of Opera host Lisa Simeone rounds out our weekend of opera with another great, this time in a production from the Flemish Opera in Ghent led by noted Baroque conductor Paul McCreesh. Ann Hallenberg stars as Agrippina, Nero’s shrewd and savvy mother, without whom the infamous emperor could never have fiddled while Rome burned.
9:30pm on WGBX 44
Richard Strauss uses the romantic indecision of a widowed Countess—who is pursued by both a composer and a poet—as the opportunity for a sophisticated, breezy examination of aesthetics. Renée Fleming sings one of her signature roles as the elegant Countess, Joseph Kaiser as the composer Flamand, Russell Braun as the poet Olivier, Sarah Connolly as Clairon, Morten Frank Larsen in his Met debut as the Count, Peter Rose as the flamboyant La Roche, and Barry Banks and Olga Makarina as a temperamental Italian tenor and soprano.
Midnight on WGBH 2
Three of the opera world’s leading stars—Jonas Kaufmann, Marina Poplavskaya, and René Pape—sing the principal roles in a new production of Gounod’s Faust, directed by Tony Award winner Des McAnuff in his Met debut. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. McAnuff's production sets the action in the mid-20th century, with Faust as a nuclear scientist who sees the terrible effects of his life’s work and longs to return to a simpler time.
French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky as Anfione, the King of Thebes. (Boston Early Music Festival)
Join Classical New England and World of Opera for what you could call a “screwball tragedy,” Agostino Steffani’s 1688 Opera Niobe: Regina di Tebe (“Niobe, Queen of Thebes”), a work that lay forgotten until its revival in 2008, and subsequent North American premiere at the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival.
The opera opens with Anfione, the King of Thebes (sung brilliantly by the emerging French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky), who wants nothing more than to hang up his scepter and immerse himself in metaphysical contemplation of the harmony of the spheres. But Anfione’s celestial ambitions are dashed by a litany of earthly troubles: a foreign invasion, a kidnapping, adultery by enchantment, a dancing bear and some very angry gods.
In Steffani's opera, the King of Thebes is at turns an enlightened demi-god, an enraged, jealous husband and a bellicose warrior-king…and that's just one of many complex characters in this spectacular opera, bringing to life Ovid's timeless tale of love, pride and divided loyalties. We also get Queen-with-attitude, Niobe herself (sung by Boston favorite Amanda Forsythe), the lovesick courtier Clearte (Kevin Skelton), who pines for Niobe, the enemy prince of Thessaly (Matthew White), who also has designs on the haughty Queen; Jose Lemos is the wisecracking nurse Nerea, Colin Balzer and Yulia Van Doren as the young lovers Tibernio and Manto; Charles Robert Stephens as Manto’s father, the blind soothsayer Tiresia; and Jesse Blumberg in a crackling role as the evil magician Poliferno. Stephen Stubbs and Paul O’Dette co-direct the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra in a production recorded by WGBH engineers at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.
At the time he composed Orfeo ed Euridice (“Orpheus and Eurydice"), Christoph Willibald Gluck wrote, “I believe that my greatest labor should be devoted to seeking a beautiful simplicity…and there is no rule which I have not thought it right to set aside willingly for the sake of the intended effect.” Gluck and his librettist, Ranieri de’ Calzabigi, even wrote a manifesto in their intention to reclaim the story from the singers. Above all, they sought for the music and the text to be straightforward and direct: a “noble simplicity” that serves to reinforce the power of the drama.
That, at least, was the intent. What happened next was that Gluck’s “revolutionary” opera got translated (from Italian to French), compromised, and bowdlerized. As Martin Pearlman writes, “What we generally hear in performances of the opera is not the bold, innovative work that Gluck originally wrote. Rather, it is most often either a later version by Gluck himself, an adaptation by Berlioz, Liszt or others, or a composite of more than one version—all of which have watered down the succinctness and impact of the original drama.”
That’s not the case in this Boston Baroque production from March of 2012, captured in concert at the New England Conversatory’s Jordan Hall. Singing the role of Orfeo is countertenor Owen Willetts. Euridice, his opposite, is soprano Mary Wilson. The third solo role is that of Amor – Love, sung by soprano Courtney Huffman. And, as the program book notes, you will hear “Choruses of nymphs and shepherds, of monsters and furies, of Elysian heroes and heroines, and of followers of Orpheus.” Martin Pearlman conducts the orchestra and chorus of Boston Baroque.