Happy Birthday, Mozart!

^Mozart in 1782, the year he married Constanza Weber, and a year after he moved to Vienna.

Today is the 253rd anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth. It was Garrison Keillor on NPR this morning who reminded me, reading this most famous of Mozart’s quotes on The Writer’s Almanac:

“When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer — say traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep — it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best, and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them.”

To commemorate the occasion, enjoy this clip of the sublime Act I trio from Cosi fan Tutte, “Soave sia il vento” (with Fiordiligi, Dorabella, and Don Alfonso wishing a safe journey to Guglielmo and Ferrando–you may recognize the music from Mercedes ads!):

For a compendium of Mozart links and Cosi fan Tutte background information, download our Click/Read/Watch/Listen PDF.

Eye on the cast: Laura Vlasak Nolen

Mezzo-soprano Laura Vlasak Nolen recently joined our Cosi fan Tutte cast as Dorabella (replacing Michele Losier–these things happen in opera!), and we are very excited to have her. Laura had quite a 2008, making her Met debut, singing at the Spoleto Festival USA, earning raves in the title role of Giulio Cesare at Glimmerglass Opera, crossing the pond to the Wexford Festival in Ireland to star as Dorotea in Tutti in Maschera (under the baton of our Butterfly conductor Leonardo Vordoni), and performing Elgar’s The Music Makers with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. 2009 is also off to a great start for Laura, who just made her Carnegie Hall debut in New York City Opera’s concert performances of Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. If you visit her blog, you can read that she’s now taking some time to prepare Dorabella, a role she calls “fabulous” and “a perfect personality match.” After her last performance of Cosi in Madison on March 15 (literally right after), she jets back to New York for rehearsals at the Met on March 16 for Waltraute in Die Walkure. I’m out of breath just typing it.

“Ardent volunteer Hannah Pickett dies at 81”

It has been a sad week for Madison Opera after the passing of one of our most devoted volunteers and advisers, Hannah Pickett. Words cannot really describe the loveliness and magnitude of her presence and the void her passing leaves. No one expected this, but we are all so thankful for the joy she brought into our lives.

The Capital Times has published a piece on Hannah that pays tribute to her extensive volunteer efforts both for Madison Opera and in local schools. You can find that article here.

Eye on the cast: Joshua Hopkins

Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins will sing Guglielmo in our upcoming Cosi in March. Starting off 2009 right with lots of Mozart, he’s currently performing Papageno in The Magic Flute with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Bernard Labadie in their new “Opera in Concert” series. Click here to read more about Mr. Hopkins, and click here to read the Globe and Mail feature on the TSO cast for The Magic Flute, also known as “Team Canada.”

UPDATE (1/23/09): The reviews are in for Hopkins’ Papageno with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Star raves: “The one special treat last night was young Pembroke-native baritone Joshua Hopkins, in the role of Papageno. His golden voice and engaging stage presence hold the promise of a great international career.”