Tonight’s program at the New York Philharmonic, Arthur Honegger’s massive oratorio dramatique Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher, has been an occasional visitor to the orchestra’s repertoire starting with the performance conducted by Charles Munch in January of 1948. Despite its slight 70 minute running time, it’s a vast polyphonic work that attracts that certain species of conductor who enjoys showing off the adroit command of large forces both orchestral and choral. As well one can hardly imagine the near electro-magnetic tug actresses must feel at the opportunity of playing one of the most mythic women of the middle ages and not get scorched by the process. Read more »
I’m a long-time fan of the Opera in English series funded by The Peter Moores Foundation that started, fittingly enough, with conductor Reginald Goodall’s performances of Wagner’s Ring cycle recorded live from the London Coliseum and released by EMI. Cast from strength with a team of British singers that included the likes of Rita Hunter, Alberto Remedios, Norman Bailey and Derek Hammond-Stroud. Many of whom never found the kind of recognition they deserved outside of England for one reason or another and it stands alone today as a unique achievement of its era. Read more »
The opening night of the Metropolitan Opera of September 1972 was supposed to be the dawn of a new era. Sir Rudolf Bing, General Manager, had two years previously ceded to his successor the head of the Royal Swedish Opera Göran Gentele. Bing had made major inroads in his attempts to have opera presented as musical theatre by hiring nearly every prominent stage director who was willing and even some who weren’t. Gentele already had a reputation as a very forward-thinking man of the theatre and his appointment was a profoundly optimistic choice. Read more »
As I leaned forward the woman in front of me turned to her seatmate and very quietly, in a voice thick with emotion and not a few tears, said, “it’s so beautiful.”
James Conlon, Music Director for the LA Opera, often does the pre-game lecture in the huge open space on the second floor lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion and it’s almost always a standing room only crowd.
Imagine two tenors releasing French opera aria collections at the same time without duplicating a single track!
My first experience with John Corigliano’s music was in high school with the ear and mind blowing score he wrote for Ken Russell’s film Altered States.
Manon Lescaut was Giacomo Puccini’s first big international success. His publisher, Giulio Ricordi, tried to put him off the project by citing Jules Massenet’s very successful adaptation just nine years previously. Puccini was intent on making the story his own, insisting, “A woman like Manon can have more than one lover… I shall feel it like an Italian, with desperate passion.” Desperation is certainly the feeling this reviewer got from a new recording of Manon Lescaut from our friends at Decca Classics, but I’m also quite certain it’s not the same type that the Maestro had for his subject.
It seems almost comical to think now but the designer-director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, who died in 1988, was at one time considered the height of regie-theatre scandal.
The role debut of a world-class singer is always a time of great anticipation, hopefully to be followed by celebration, if not unbridled jubilation.