Χριστός ἀνέστη, Христос воскрес, and Happy Easter to those who celebrated yesterday!

Today, in honor of Easter in the Greek Orthodox religion, we will honor a certain Greek diva you may have heard of for our first ever #MariaCrushMonday, instead of our usual #SingerCrushSunday.  Maria Callas was a fearless diva who broke the mold of what an artist could and should be.  Her legacy as an artist, singer, and woman will forever leave a significant mark on the opera world.   Her life was quite dramatic on stage as well as off, and both her professional and personal lives had “lead roles” in the public eye.  She was nothing less than iconic, and Leonard Bernstein even said she was “the bible of opera.” Due to her celebrity status during her lifetime, she faced plenty of criticisms, and the media would report with their own negative opinions on her weight, her love life, her performances, rumors of temper tantrums backstage, etc.  She was often a target, but she was a strong woman, and handled all of it as gracefully as humanly possible.  Who do we remember today?  Callas, not her critics.


#MariaCrushMonday aims to leave you with a notable quote from La Divina herself, and of course, a timeless operatic interpretation. This week we will be featuring “Vissi d’arte” which literally translates to “I lived for art” from Puccini’s Tosca, a role that is historically associated with Callas’ interpretation, and a character that is often described as courageous.

“You are born an artist or you are not. And you stay an artist, dear, even if your voice is less of a fireworks. The artist is always there.” ~Maria Callas


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Easter Bunny Sunday!

So on this happy day, we thought hard and quick about what Easter Sunday means to us.  Of course, the character of Santuzza in her duet with Turiddu when she wishes him to have a “bad Easter” in Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana comes first to mind.  Why, might you ask does she do this?  It is in the heat of passion and rage that she accuses him of an affair with Lola and denounces her love for him in the same breath.  Her last resort is to hit him where it hurts, his beliefs.  The music, exquisite.  The text, important to the story.  The moment, pure drama.

But that is not all, we understand that Easter Sunday is so much more than drama, story, and religious beliefs.  It is about historical reflection, honoring tradition, and about being true to yourself in your personal passions, whatever shape that might take.   It is a time when we can listen to the beauty of music and let go of all else.  Whether in a church singing glorious music or walking through the park on a sunny afternoon with your loved ones.  It is certain that no other composer than Bach does this for us, and brings us closer to such a reverie. 

On Good Friday, 11 April 1727, during the vespers service in the Tomaskirche in Leipzig, Johan Sebastian Bach’s Matthäus-Passion was performed for the first time.  It is perfectly clear that the composer knew this work would change music history.  Because, even more so than in his St John Passion, the St Matthew Passion voices not only a story of divine truth but also and above all a deep sensation of human suffering the undertones of which can be recognised by many.  Due to recent events, many performances of this special work have been dedicated to the victims and their families.  Specifically, at the Brussels International Music Festival (http://www.klarafestival.be/en/content/st-matthew-passion-bach).  While I was visiting Zurich this past week, I had the pleasure to attend a performance of Bach’s BWV 244 in full at the TonHalle Orchester (http://www.tonhalle-orchester.ch/en/) on Thursday surrounded by an appreciative and pensive audience.

Here is an excerpt of tenor’s Nicolai Gedda, performing “Ich will bet mine Jesu wachen” from Matthäus-Passion.

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This Easter, we encourage you to think about your passions, your loves, whatever makes you happy, and go after it. Like author and activist Howard Thurman says, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

For us, it’s easy, we sing.

~ Jennie

Translation found at:  http://www.gbt.org/music/St_Matthew_text.pdf