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Much to her surprise, Finnish soprano Karita Mattila found a community on Twitter that helped her regain confidence after a painful divorce.

You may say that on Twitter we each live in a bubble of like-minded people and that no good can come of that. But sometimes like-minded people can support someone who is down and out. Consider the case of Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, who was suffering doubts after a painful divorce.

Joshua Barone writes at the New York Times, “At 58, [Karita] Mattila, who is currently onstage here at [France’s] Aix Festival in Weill and Brecht’s ‘Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,’ is having something of a late-career renaissance: a newly expanding repertoire and newfound celebrity on Twitter, where she is beloved by some of opera’s most ardent fans.

“And she loves them right back. …

“On Twitter — where few opera stars, when they’re present at all, are active beyond blandly promoting their performances — she posts, often with an abundance of emoji, about everything. She reacts to the news, never shying from being political; she participates in polls; she shares her thoughts (and horror stories) about restaurants in Aix-en-Provence. …

” ‘I’ve decided to be me. … I used to be so overprotective of myself,’ she said. ‘It’s time to start having faith. … Twitter was — maybe it’s dramatic — it was my lifesaver,’ she said. ‘It really became my rescuer.’

“Before the divorce from Tapio Kuneinen, who was also her manager, Ms. Mattila wasn’t present on social media. … A girlfriend warned her, she recalled: ‘There will be people who hate you. And if there aren’t, it means you don’t have enough followers yet.’

“But Ms. Mattila gave it a try. And as followers came, she began to interact with them, more and more — engaging with fans and music scholars from around the world who also repost many of her tweets.

“ ‘I “met” so many of these people, and I cried so much because it moved me, how they analyzed music and what I was doing. Of course I have that music-training background, but it had been so long since I have had conversations about music, what I do for a living,’ she said, waving her arms for emphasis.

“When she was in New York this spring for a production of Poulenc’s ‘Dialogues des Carmélites’ at the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. Mattila began to meet some of her Twitter followers in person and was, she said, ‘totally in awe.’ …

“Twitter has also redefined Ms. Mattila’s relationship with music. As a busy international artist, she had long thought she didn’t have the time to listen recreationally. But now, she said: ‘There are these guys that send me what they are listening to. It’s re-established my appreciation toward my own field.’ …

“Throughout her career, Ms. Mattila has been famous for her dramatic prowess and visceral physicality, ingrained, she said, since her education at the Sibelius Academy in Finland. But Esa-Pekka Salonen, her fellow student at the academy and the conductor of the Aix ‘Mahagonny,’ described her theatricality as more extraordinary than schooling alone could produce.

“ ‘She is totally committed to the material, whatever it is,’ he said. ‘Things can be raw, they can be intense, they can be funny. But she’s always in it, totally.’ …

“During rehearsals, Mr. Salonen said, she had a talent for energizing the musicians, which then showed once the audience was added to the mix. She even appeared in good spirits on the night of the dress rehearsal, as she posted selfies on Twitter.”

More here.

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Gian Carlo Menotti composed Amahl and the Night Visitors for an NBC Christmas show in 1951. He was under deadline and drawing a blank when the painting “The Adoration of the Magi” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art sparked his childhood memories of three kings who visit Italian children with gifts.

I have seen the operetta and listened to the recording many times. It takes only the first few bars and the lovely oboe representing the shepherd boy’s pipe for me to bring out the tissues and start crying and smiling all the way through.

A production today at the Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord was excellent. Kim Lamoureux took the role of Amahl. Robert Runck was stage director. Robin Farnsley was music director. Farnsley also was a breathtaking Mother of Amahl. Her anguish in the scene where her fear for her son overcomes her is heartbreaking as she inches toward the gold of the sleeping kings.

“All that gold! All that gold!
I wonder if rich people know what to do with their gold?
Do they know how a child could be fed? Do rich people know?”

You may read the whole script of this short operetta here. And there are lots of snippets on YouTube. I include one from the 50s.

Update: December 22, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Amahl and the Night Visitors, with soloists Julia Shneyderman, Robin Farnsley, Ray Bauwens, Brad Amidon, Thomas Dawkins, and Michael Prichard. Chorus and orchestra conducted by Alan Yost,  Tickets $20 adults/$10 students. Call 978 369-7911 or buy on-line.

Follow us on twitter @LunaStellaBlog.

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