Cher Public

John Masko

John Masko, a native of the Providence, RI area, is an orchestral conducting master’s student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During his undergraduate years at Yale College, John was active in student opera both as a music director and vocal coach, working on productions of Die Fledermaus, Dido and Aeneas, Castor et Pollux, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. After he graduated with a double major in history and music in 2014, John’s diverse interests led him to a two-year international politics research and writing position at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, while he simultaneously studied the art of conducting. He is winner of the 2016 Rubin Institute Audience Review Prize for music criticism.

This is a man’s world

Brian Jagde (right) prepares to talk to the hand of Martina Serafin.

Brian Jagde (right) prepares to talk to the hand of Martina Serafin.

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending the season-opening performance of Turandot at San Francisco Opera, directed by Garnett Bruce and conducted by Nicola Luisotti. I had been looking forward to this performance for a while, not only for its daring score—equal parts Puccinian schmaltz, nineteenth century “oriental” musical topics, and hard-edged machine-age dissonances—but also to see what the Opera would be able to do with Turandot’s strange personalities and plot.  Read more »

Only connect…

In have a special admiration for singers who can perform well in French. The reasons include both a personal bugaboo (I can remember almost choking over the word gloire the first time I ran across it in a choral piece), and the technical difficulties that the language imposes on any singer. Executing the complex range of dark vowel sounds and schwas requires near perfect control over vowel shape and inflection, even as the high dramatic content of so much of the French repertoire gives a singer plenty of other things to think about.  Read more »

All right on the western front

Kevin PutsSilent Night is an anomaly for high-level “classical music” in our times: its style is listenable and unpretentious, its emotionalism unfettered and raw. The opera, which had its  west coast premiere of this opera in San José on Sunday, is in a sense a giant middle finger raised against the conventional wisdom that musical sophistication requires inscrutability.  (In fact, this opera  was an ideal antidote to my unsettling Friday, when I heard  Ted Hearne’s The Source in San Francisco.)  Read more »

Open source

Ted Hearne’s opera/oratorio The Source brings compositional process and combination of acoustic and electronic elements to the weighty topics of national security leaks, big data, and war.

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Tag sale

It is a good rule of thumb that if you emerge from a massive grand opera like Aida feeling any less than overwhelmed, you have a right to be somewhat disappointed.

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All night long

In one important respect, a great production of Puccini resembles a great production of Wagner.

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Life sentence

Janácek’s disconcerting commentary on youth and immortality received a full-throated performance.

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