Richard Wagner~ Born May 22, 1813

Early in his career, Wagner learned both the elements and the practical, political realities of his craft by writing a handful of operas which were unenthusiastically, even angrily, received. Beginning with Rienzi (1838-40) and The Flying Dutchman (1841), however, he enjoyed a string of successes that propelled him to immortality and changed the face of music. His monumental Ring cycle of four operas — Das Rheingold (1853-54), Die Walküre (1854-56), Siegfried (1856-71) and Götterdämmerung (1869-74) — remains the most ambitious and influential contribution by any composer to the opera literature.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/richard-wagner-mn0000958980/biography

The Brilliant, Troubled Legacy of Richard Wagner

A great music lover, Renoir was one of the first admirers of Wagner in France. At the beginning of 1882, when the painter was travelling in the south of Italy, he had the opportunity to visit Palermo where Wagner was staying. After two fruitless attempts, Renoir was finally introduced to the “maestro” who, the day before, had put the final notes to Parsifal.
The course of this meeting is well known thanks to a letter from Renoir to one of his friends, dated 15 January 1882:
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire/commentaire_id/richard-wagner-11042.html?no_cache=1

“Turandot” premieres in Milan on April 25, 1926:

Poster

 

Turandot premiered at La Scala in Milan on 25 April 1926, almost a year and a half after Puccini’s death. Puccini’s friend Arturo Toscanini, who had worked on the score with the composer during the last months of Puccini’s life, conducted the premiere. As is widely recorded, when the opera reached the last note written by Puccini, Toscanini ended the performance. What he said at the time has been variously reported, from the poetic “Here death triumphed over art” to the poigniant “For me, the work ends here.” An eyewitness quoted in a recent biography puts it somewhere between the two: “Here ends the opera, because at this point the maestro was dead.”
http://www.theopera101.com/operas/turandot/

 

April 9, 1939: Marian Anderson’s Easter Sunday Lincoln Memorial concert


Marian Anderson, contralto, was denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color. Instead, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes permitted her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939.

The message of Marian Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial concert~
http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2014/04/the-message-of-marian-andersons-lincoln-memorial-concert/
Remembering Marian Anderson~ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/remember-jan-june97-anderson_02-26/
Marian Anderson: A Life in Song~ http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rbm/anderson/

Premiered April 8: “La Gioconda”

Composer Amilcare Ponchielli was born in Italy in 1834. He started composing operas while still a student at the Milan Conservatory. After graduating in 1854, he held various positions over the years, including professor of composition at the Conservatory; his pupils included Giacomo Puccini and Pietro Mascagni. His most famous opera is “La Gioconda”, written in 1876. It is mainly remembered for its ballet, Dance of the Hours.

Dance of the Hours stands out as the only operatic ballet from this genre to have established a life of its own both inside the concert hall and in pop culture…Perhaps the most iconic use of this music is in Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia”, where it underscores the questionable talents of a dance company comprised of hippos, ostriches, and alligators. Later it surfaced again as a number two hit on the pop charts in 1963, this time with words by parodist Alan Sherman. It may be difficult now to listen to this music without remembering the opening words of an alarmist child’s letter to his parents from summer camp: “Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda…”.
http://www.laphil.com/philpedia/music/dance-of-hours-from-la-gioconda-amilcare-ponchielli

Ponchielli’s biography~ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/amilcare-ponchielli-mn0000496351/biography

Synopsis of “La Gioconda“~ https://www.thoughtco.com/la-sonnambula-synopsis-724264

Dame Eva Turner: Born March 10, 1892

A dramatic soprano with a voice of mammoth proportions, Eva Turner, though scarcely neglected in her native country, enjoyed many of her greatest successes abroad. Most closely identified with the title role in Turandot (which she first sang in Brescia only a month after its premiere), she brought to all of her roles a voice of both enormous size and great cutting power, topped with an unflagging ease in the highest register. While not always an illuminating actress, she approached all of her work with seriousness of purpose, thorough integrity and no small measure of excitement.
Biography and interview here~ http://www.bruceduffie.com/evaturner.html

Renata Scotto: Born February 24, 1934

[Renata Scotto] began vocal studies when she was 14, and moved to Milan when she was 16. In 1952, when she was just 19, she made her debut as Violetta (La traviata) at the Teatro Nuovo, followed by her La Scala debut as Walter in La Wally. However, only a few years later she had a vocal crisis, losing most of her upper range; she now credits her recovery to Alfredo Kraus (himself renowned for a solid technique and vocal longevity), who introducing her to his teacher, Mercedes Llopart. After completely restudying her technique, she re-began her career as a coloratura, making her London debut at the Stoll Theater as Adina in L’elisir d’amore. She returned to La Scala, and in 1957, replaced Maria Callas (whom she had greatly admired) as Amina in La Sonnambula.
– See more at:
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/renata-scotto-mn0000681028/biography
http://musicalworld.com/artists/renata-scotto/biography.html