Mozart tinkered with the Messiah. Mendelssohn adapted choral works by both Handel and Bach. But when Richard Wagner reached into the past and revised Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide, he went beyond the accepted boundaries of tinkering and more or less created a new work that’s fomented aesthetic debates ever since. Read more »
Giacomo Puccini’s horse-opera version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” La Fanciulla del West, based on David Belasco’s play, The Girl of the Golden West, enjoyed the status of a curate’s egg for quite a while. Its popularity dwindled after its initial, and wildly successful, premiere at the Metropolitan in 1910 starring Enrico Caruso, Emmy Destinn, and Pasquale Amato and conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Since it was the first new opera commissioned by the Met it generated a lot of excitement in the media and with the public. Critics mostly fell over themselves for the glories of the music, mise en scène (real horses on stage!), the singing and conducting. Read more »
I have been a lifelong fan of West Side Story in spite, or because, of the fact that my first real introduction to its wonders was the bloated and bourgeois recording made by Leonard Bernstein and produced by Deutsche Grammophon in 1985. I can’t really be blamed since I was very young and impressionable and it was the first time I’d ever heard the musical numbers in full, like the balcony scene with the dialogue lead-in and the underscoring, as well as the dance music complete. It was, my friends, magic—even if Lenny, in a titanic display of nepotism, hired his own children to speak said love scenes to each other. (Ick.) Read more »
With much laying-on of fanfares and gift boxes our friends at Decca Classics have unleashed Luciano Pavarotti Edition 1: The First Decade on a weary and satiated public.
“Conduct Salome and Elektra as if they were by Mendelssohn: Fairy music.” Seriously, how often has that happened?
Vienna never really forgave Erich Wolfgang Korngold for going to work in the movies.
Once upon a time, a man and a woman met. He could sing, she could sing. They fell in love, got married, and became a power couple to rival Billary.
To some, Anne Schwanewilms will always be the soprano in the slinky black dress who replaced Deborah Voigt at Covent Garden a decade ago.
His 75-minute setting of Oedipus in Kolonos, heard in a live 2009 performance on MDR Klassik, illustrates how Mendelssohn tried to link ancient forms with Romantic-era sensibilities by fashioning harmonically adventurous chorales and believable characters instead of abstract musical representations of mythical figures.