At next year's Salzburg Whitsun Festival, Cecilia Bartoli will sing Maria in West Side Story! The exclamation mark is my surprise at the announcement, though I have no doubt that hers will be a lively and touching performance.
And talking of lively… Gustavo Dudamel will be conducting the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. (No exclamation mark.) Norman Reinhardt will be Tony who, according to his agent, has a “dashing stage presence”.
Romeo and Juliet will be the Festival's theme as next year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Other events include John Cranko's choreography of the story with the Stuttgart Ballet; Giulietta e Romeo, a little known opera by Italian composer Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli from 1796 which Bartoli has exhumed after 200 years; themed concerts and recitals by violinist Julia Fischer and pianist Milana Chernyavska, The Tallis Scholars, Angela Gheorghiu and Juan Diego Florez; and various film versions, including that of Franco Zeffirelli.
In the programme notes Bartoli writes, reports the New York Times' ArtsBeat,
The wish that Bernstein obviously expressed, that in the midst of the Broadway ensemble, the lovers' roles, Maria and Tony, could be sung by operatic voices, opens up a wonderful new repertoire to me, including hits like Tonight, One Hand, One Heart, I Feel Pretty and Somewhere.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.
Of course, she is a great artist and could probably do a creditable job singing any role in any language, but…why? Why not Ailyn Perez as Maria and Ceci as her older friend Anita?