Playlist: Spring

Our Playlist column features music curated by our faculty, students, and staff and focusing on an interesting idea or theme. For the latest column, we invited Assistant Professor of Voice J. Patrick Raftery to share some of his favourite opera performances. You can listen to the tracks below via Spotify (if you have an account) or YouTube (if you don't). The full playlist is also available here.

By J. Patrick Raftery

Motivated by the imminent arrival of spring, I have chosen the theme of love to explore in my playlist. I have always been motivated by my love of music, my love for singers, and my love of opera and song. For my playlist I’ve chosen some of my favourite works by friends and colleagues, as well as a few classics by my personal icons. 

Over the course of my career, I’ve been fortunate to share the stage with some brilliant singers, including Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Helen Donath, Barbara Bonney, Pilar Lorengar, Marilyn Horne, and Régine Crespin. I was lucky enough to be double cast as the Count in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden with Thomas Allen, and Beverly Sills and the great Canadian Mezzo Maureen Forester were among my friends.  

Other singers I have long admired include Arleen Auger, Janet Baker, Hermann Prey, Peter Schreier, Hans Hotter, Robert Merrill, Margaret Price, Giuseppe Di Stefano!

Here, along with my full Spotify playlist, are some clips of the songs that I held up as an ideal to strive for when I was a young singer.  

Hermann Prey, Sonntag

Hermann Prey’s performance of Sonntag by Brahms shows this baritone at his best. It always sounds unselfconscious and as if Brahms had written this song for Mr. Prey. Looking forward to every Sunday this young man is excited to see the girl he loves.

Pilar Lorengar, Die Tote Stadt

My friend Pilar Lorengar is featured twice on my list. I had the great pleasure of having Pilar as my wife Alice Ford in San Francisco Opera’s production of Verdi’s Falstaff. Here, as Marietta in Korngold’s opera Die Tote Stadt, Pilar is singing of her love and how she won’t let death separate them in life.

Helen Donath, Fidelio

I made my German debut with the Hamburg State Opera and met the American soprano Helen Donath. A generous and engaged colleague, Helen was already an established star at that time, famous for her performanes in works by Mozart, Handel, and StraussI have included the famous quartet from Beethoven’s Fidelio featuring Helen. The characters are talking about the love they feel or see in each other.

Regine Crespin, Shéhérezade

The farewell performance of French diva Regine Crespin in North America was in San Francisco Opera’s Pique Dame. I was lucky enough to sing the role of Prince Yeletsky with her in these performances. Here she is in, brilliant as ever, in Ravel’s Shéhérezade.  

Nicolai Ghiaurov, Don Carlos

In Verdi’s Don Carlos, King Philip has realized that his wife is in love with someone else and in despair he sings “Ella giammai m’amo” (“She never loved me”). It was a dream come true for me to sing my first Posa in Don Carlos for the Hamburg State Opera with Nicolai. Here is the great Bulgarian bass Nicolai Ghiaurov performing the aria. He takes us on a mournful emotional ride with his rendition of this famous aria.

Happy spring 2019! I hope you enjoy the playlist.

Banner image from Vancouver Opera Company’s La Boheme, featuring J. Patrick Raftery. Tim Matheson Photography.