Digital Concert Hall, and Spotify

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 1.24.01 PMI have become a pretty passionate listener to music over the past several years. I started by becoming a subscriber to the New York Philharmonic. Then picked up a subscription to the Metropolitan Opera and Jazz at Lincoln Center. In addition to all this excellent live music, I continue to visit a few Broadway shows as they appeal to me. I’ve been using this blog more or less as a record of what I have been enjoying.

In the last year, I’ve also discovered several excellent digital resources to fuel my music listening passion. The first is the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall. A subscription service (weekly, monthly or annually – free trial available), you can stream live and archived concerts from the Berlin Philharmonic. I’ve never seen the orchestra live, but this is the next best thing! They also provide access to numerous historical performances. For example, they are currently publishing recordings with esteemed conductor Herbert von Karajan. The service offers several films and interviews with various artists. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Philharmonic’s hall, the Berlin Philharmonie. For about $200 US a year, it is a terrific resource. The Digital Concert Hall also streams well through Samsung SmartTVs and mobile devices. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming season! The Berlin has become one of my favorite orchestras, up there with the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony. Follow the Digital Concert Hall on Facebook to watch concert excerpts and receive the occasional “free ticket.”

Another service I’ve recently learned about is I had never heard of until I saw there was an app on my Samsung SmartTV. They often stream concerts free, such as the recent Verbier Festival from Verbier, Sweden. I watched several offerings and was impressed with the performances and video quality. has a catalog that contains concerts, including older concerts, opera, dance and documentaries – almost 1,500 in total. is slightly less expensive than the Digital Concert Hall with subscriptions starting at $120 US to $180. They recently ran a 20% off sale. does have apps for mobile devices. I’m looking forward to enjoying what this service has to offer in the coming year.

Spotify has been around for awhile – 2006 – but has gained more popularity in recent years. I have enjoyed this service, especially to find digital recordings of records I had when I was a kid. Spotify provides the ability to create playlists and has just come out with a nifty equalizer. The service is free, but premium service is available for about $10 a month and allows for the downloading of music to mobile devices. This is handy to stream the music through the car without impacting mobile device data plans.

La Cenerentola

lacenerentolatopThe final Met opera of the 2013-14 season, for me, was Rossini’s La Cenerentola, based on the well-known tale of Cinderella. Two of my favorite opera singers were featured: Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diago Florez. Alessandro Corbelli and Luca Pisaroni complete the cast, with Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leading the effervescent score.


By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Opera

Cosi fan tutte

cosiFor this season, I decided to see only three operas at the Met. Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte is the second opera for me this year. Cosi fan tutte is opera buffa which means, in short, that nobody dies! That was one of my criteria for building a short series of three operas this year. As I’ve said before, I’m not exactly an opera aficionado, but I did find the duet and ensemble singing in this opera to be some of the finest I’ve heard. The production starred Guanqun Yu and Isabel Leonard as the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella, Matthew Polenzani and Rodion Pogossov are their lovers, and Danielle de Niese as the scheming Despina. James Levine returned to the Met as music director.


By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Opera

Prince Igor

borodin-igorThis season, I plan to attend only 3 operas as part of my yearly subscription. Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin was the first of the season for me. I have always found Russian music interesting because of its folk elements – it just sounds “Russian” and I like that. I added Prince Igor to my subscription after listening to it on Spotify and hearing all the beautiful choral soundf.

This performance did not disappoint. Beautiful music. Beautiful singing from chorus and soloists alike. Masterful playing by the orchestra. And engaging staging by Dimitri Tcherniakov. Gianandrea Noseda conducted.

New York Times Review – A new vision for Prince Igor at the Met

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Opera

Metropolitan Opera – La Traviata

TRAVIATA-articleLargeThis is musically, probably one of my favorite operas. And this production by Willy Decker is one of my favorites as well. Today’s performance was conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin and featured Diana Damrau as Violette, Saimir Pirgu as Alfredo and Placido Domingo as Alfredo’s father.

The performance started out a little flat – not in pitch, but in energy. From all the way up in the balcony it was difficult to hear the singers. This was something I have not had a problem with at the Met. As the opera progressed, though, the energy picked up as well. Maybe it was because it was a matinee. Despite my criticism, the audience was quite appreciative, particularly of the performances of Damrau and Domingo.

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Opera