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In 2018, New York newspapers praised the short-notice Metropolitan Opera debut of baritone Alexander Birch Elliot in Bizet's The Pearlfishers. During this time of closed theaters, Elliott's "Living Room Recital" may be heard on Los Angeles Opera's website. His program is as follows:
Schubert's Serenade; "The Song Is You" from Kern's Music in the Air; "On the Street Where You Live" from Loewe's My Fair Lady; Don Giovanni's Serenade from the Mozart opera; "Were Thine That Special Face" from Porter's Kiss Me, Kate; Ellington's Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Gershwin's Love Is Here to Stay;" and Youmans' Without a Song.

Don't miss the new entry on the L A Opera website, Lift Every Voice. It lets you listen in on a conversation hosted by J'nai Bridges featuring Morris Robinson, Russell Thomas, Karen Slack, Julia Bullock, and Lawrence Brownlee.

Metropolitan Opera Soprano Karen Slack has a FaceBook opera-talk show, Kiki Conversations, on Thursdays at 5 p.m. and, lately, at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays as well. On Tuesday, June 9th, Karen's guest will be Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis. His winning opera is The Central Park Five, a work about a group of young men wrongly convicted of a crime in the New York City park. Long Beach Opera presented the world premiere of this work last season. On Thursday, June 11, Karen's guest will be Met Opera colleague Ailyn Pérez, whose 2020 engagements in Spain, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at the Met have all been cancelled due to COVID-19.

On board our Magic Opera Carpet for the virtual flight to Liège, Belgium, handsome stewards serve crepes with sweet cream, strawberries, and café au lait. For the next few months, France TV offers Giuseppe Verdi's French opera, Don Carlos, from Opera Royal de Wallonie. Unlike the opera's better known Italian version, Don Carlo, the French rendition opens with a scene in France where Elizabeth learns she is to wed King Philip instead of his son, Carlos, whom she loves. Paolo Arrivabene conducts and Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera directs this Opera Wallonie-Liège production. The cast includes Gregorly Kunde as Don Carlo, Yolanda Auyanet as Elizabeth, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as King Philip II, Kate Aldrich as Eboli, and Lionel L'hôte as Rodrigue. An elaborately devised production, the costumes and sets evoke the grandeur of late 16th century Spain as well as the terror aroused by the Inquisition. Sorry to say the titles are in French only.

Also from France TV, Henry Purcell's The Indian Queen is sung in English with French titles in case you want to practice. The performance is from Opéra de Lille and Le Concert Astrée led by Emmanuelle Haim. In 1694, Thomas Betterton was given £50 to transform John Dryden's play of the same name play into an opera, and he commissioned Purcell to compose the music. The first performance of Purcell's Indian Queen was held at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in 1695.

All aboard for Berlin where daylight persists for over 16 hours in June. This month the Komische Oper is performing Mussorgsky's Sorochintscy Fair. I suggest accompanying this folk story with traditional Ukrainian farmer cheese pancakes studded with sweet raisins or pieces of apricot. According to the Sorochintscy Fair libretto, a devil is at work in the rural Ukrainian village terrifying residents and visitors alike. With wild drinking songs, energetic folk dances, and a vociverous witches' Sabbath, director Barrie Kosky stages Mussorgsky's comic-grotesque work as a lively, colorful folk opera. Left unfinished in 1932, Pavel Lamm reconstructed the libretto and Vissarion Shebalin orchestrated the score, respecting the work's rustic musical style.

In June it can even be warm in Berlin, so let's get back on the Magic Opera Carpet for a smooth and efficient ride to Moscow and Prokofiev's monumental War and Peace. We thought about riding mules but they're too persnickety. In the early 20th century, founders of the Moscow State Stanislavsky Music Theatre rejected the notion that opera was a costumed concert. They founded the new company with the idea that characters should reveal the main ideas of the plot through psychologically motivated action. Alexander Titel directed the Stanislavsky Music Theatre's production of War and Peace and Felix Korobov conducted the 2013 performance we see via digital streaming.

Expecting to arrive home in LA late on Sunday, we have time to stop off virtually in Santiago Chile for a glass of wine from their famous Casa Blanca Valley. Chile's Sharing Music, Sharing Love is a benefit performance for Artists in that country who are out of work because of COVID. The concert's performers, however, are from various parts of the globe. The show can be seen live at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time on Sunday, June 7, 2020. It will be available later as well.

Photo of Alexander Birch Elliott from L2 Artists.

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