Michael Kownacky

Program Host

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.

You can also hear Michael, along with his The Dress Circle co-host, on JazzOn2, every Wednesday evening from 7pm, eastern, for Strike Up the Band, a program celebrating the big bands and dance bands of jazz.

Ways to Connect

A forgotten tragedy from 1839 will be featured on this week’s Sunday Opera (12/10  3:00 p.m.) with the broadcast of Saverio Mercadante’s “Il Bravo.”  Based on a play that was, in turn, based on the novel “The Bravo” by James Fenimore Cooper, the libretto explores the inability of the Venetian government to properly care for its citizens.  Dino Di Domenico leads the cast as Il Bravo in this 1991 recording, and he’s joined by Adelisa Tabiadon, Janet Perry, Sergio Bertocchi, and Stefano Antonucci along with the Bratislava Philharmonic Chorus and The Italian International Orchestra with Bruno A

An anthem in a musical usually comes when a character is at a crossroads, and we’ll be taking a look at a variety of anthems on this week’s Dress Circle (12/10  7:00 p.m.).   At some point in most musicals, one or more characters have to take stock of their situation and overcome some obstacle in order to find a happy ending, and that moment of personal crisis has given birth to some of the greatest songs in musicals.  Join as we sample anthems from “Ragtime,” “Steel Pier,” “Chess,” “La Cage Aux Folles,” “The Color Purple,” “Company,” and more.  It’ll be an hour of memorable numbers and per

We’ll head out west for this week’s Sunday Opera (12/3  3:00 p.m.) and an adaptation by Craig Bohmler and Steven Mark Kohn of Zane Grey’s novel considered by many to be the greatest western ever written, “Riders of the Purple Sage,” a story of religious persecution and cattle rustlers.  The cast from Arizona Opera includes Laura Wilde as Jane, Joshua Jeremiah as Lassiter, Amanda Opuszynski as Bess, and Joshua Dennis as Venters with Joseph Mechavich conducting.   Following the opera, join host Michael Kownacky for more American music: a secular cantata by Paul Moravec entitled “The Blizzard

For many, holiday preparations are already at a fever pitch, that’s why we’re taking a break this week (12/3  7:00p.m.) from holiday fare to take a look at some of the show that opened on Broadway in December.  We’ll turn to some Christmas themed shows at the end of the month, but we hope that you’ll join us for a respite without a sprig of holly in sight!  Some of the shows from which you’ll hear songs are Oscar Hammerstein’s adaptation of Bizet in “Carmen Jones,” the Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good!”, Richard Rodgers’ and Lorenz Hart’s “Pal Joey,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” by Jule Styne and Leo

“Amleto,” an opera by Franco Faccio that disappeared for over 140 years, is the special treat on this week’s Sunday Opera (11/26  3:00 p.m.).  This broadcast is from the 2014 production by Opera Southwest and was realized and reconstructed by Southwest’s Artistic Director and conductor Anthony Barrese.  The opera premiered on May 30, 1865 in Genoa and was revised in 1871 for a La Scala production after which Faccio withdrew the score which was not to be heard again until the 21st century.  Alex Richardson stars in the title role, and he’s joined by Abla Hamza as his Ofelia, Shannon DeVine a

What do people look forward to most at Thanksgiving time?  We say it’s the leftovers, so we’ll look to some more Broadway turkeys because there are just so many of them.  This time, the cut-off is a dozen or fewer performances, and we’ve been able to find songs from a dozen of those shows.  Join us for some excellent songs from shows you didn’t even know you missed such as “Honkey Tonk Nights,” “Jerome Kern Goes to Hollywood,” “Christine,” “Dance a Little Closer,” “The Red Shoes,” “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?”, and “Welcome to the Club” to name a few.  We hope you had a

The Sunday Opera travels to Albuquerque’s Opera Southwest this week (11/19  3:00 p.m.) for Giocchino Rossini’s “Tancredi.”  The libretto by Gaetano Rossi (who would write the libretto for Rossini’s “Semiramide” ten years later) features both a happy and tragic ending for this story that includes a love story that is affected by false assumptions and disguise.  Heather Johnson stars in the title role, and the rest of the cast includes Lindsay Ohse, Heath Huberg, Matthew Curran, Madelyn Wanner, and Chelsea Duval-Major in a production conducted by Anthony Barrese.

Just in time for Thanksgiving!  This week’s Dress Circle (11/19  7:00 p.m.) will feature some Broadway Turkeys!  We took a look at the champs last week, so it’s only fair that we take a look at some of the failures that outnumber them by at least 10 to 1.  There are many factors that contribute to a show’s failure.  The show may just be bad, the direction or casting misguided, or one aspect, either the book or score, just isn’t up to par, but sometimes, there are unseen factors as when a backer pulls out, reviews are mediocre even though the show is good, and many more.

As in everything, Broadway has its share of winners and losers, and this week (11/12  7:00 p.m.) we’ll be looking at some box office champs that ran more than 3,000 performances.  We’ll end with the current leader, “Phantom of the Opera” which has over 12,000 performances on Broadway.  Along the way, we’ll sample “A Chorus Line,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Grease,” “Rent,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Miss Saigon,” and “Wicked” along with five more.    Celebrate the best Broadway has to offer this week, and every week, on The Dress Circle.  Don’t forget to look for the webcasts of shows you may mi

Felice Romani is once again the librettist for our final opera from the Caramoor Music Festival on this week’s Sunday opera (11/12  3:00 p.m.).  The opera is Vincenzo Bellini’s “Il Pirata,” a tragic story of lost love, treachery, death, and madness.  Angela Meade leads the cast once more as Imogene.  Her true love, Gualtiero, is sung by Santigo Ballerini, and Harold Wilson sings the role of the evil that comes between them, Ernesto.  Will Crutchfield conducts.  As a bit of a departure from our usual Sunday Operas, host Michael Kownacky will be celebrating a birthday with the time left.   A

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