A small selection of good things from my homeland.
- New Zealand mezzo (and Otago graduate) Brigitte Heuser, accompanied by Richard Mapp, sings a gorgeous "Faites-lui mes aveux" in January of this year. This aria was to some extent Brigitte's signature song while she was in Dunedin, so it's a particularly good mark of just how impressively she's progressed. To think the first time I heard her sing was in a half empty hall in Mosgiel for the Green Island competitions, singing (along with every single other person in the Test Song Class) "The Salley Gardens". Who knew?
- The rise and rise of the delightful mezzo, then zwischenfach, and now soprano Madeleine Pierard. From Lexus Song Quest glory to dazzling Handelian antics and, somewhere along the line, an aria sung for the Queen and Prince Phillip. Not too shabby. (I recommend the "Eccomi in lieta vesta" on her Listen page. This alone is enough to make me happy she's a soprano now.)
- Not that I've seen it — though I want to — but the Royal Opera's newish DVD release of David McVicar's Le nozze di Figaro features none other than Dunedin's Own Ana James as Barbarina. You know, that tiny tiny role to whom Mozart just happens to give some of the most beautiful music in the whole opera. Among her co-stars are of course Anna's betrothed (or are they in fact married now?) and the ever lovely Rinat Shaham.
- This one's a bit trans-Tasman, but Radio NZ is still offering online access to two interviews with a Prima la musica favourite, Australian soprano Antoinette Halloran. This search yields two audio links. The first, from early this month, is with Kim Hill — one of my very favourite New Zealanders. The second, longer interview, is from April, with Eva Radich. Both well worth a listen. The second in particular has piqued my curiosity. Antoinette apparently is singing Butterfly next year — is this instead of or as well as la mia Cheryl, I wonder? The information about Streetcar is also intriguing. I figured it would come to Melbourne sooner rather than later — Adrian Collette suggested as much at the Streetcar insights session last August — but am surprised to hear that it might well be the same cast. Teddy, I understand. But the same Blanche? This is unexpected. Somehow I had the feeling she'd never do it again. Last but not least, I admit my gossipy side can't help wondering just who the Rodolfo she didn't get on with was...
- And finally, two clips of Anna Leese in her capacity as part of the Prince Consort, rehearsing a couple of Schumann pieces with Andy Staples and Alisdair Hogarth. She's wonderful, as ever — so where oh where is the promised solo CD on EMI's Debut label? The last I heard, it was due for release in early May, but it's practically June now. I Want That CD.