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  • DeepSouthSenior: Speaking of inbreeding: You might be a redneck if you’ve been married three times and... 12:51 PM
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On the beach

The sea, the sky, the wind, the storms that are so frequently depicted in the music of Benjamin Britten are brilliantly illuminated in the new DVD of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, a collaboration between Aldeburgh Music, film director Margaret Williams, and stage director Tim Albery.

On a fantastical set (a stunning design by Leslie Travers) depicting storm-tossed boats and piers placed on the beach pebbles near the water’s edge, the performance plays out in the natural elements with the audience on the beach as well.  The sea and sky are the backdrops, and this performance finds the heart and guts of Britten’s work with excellent staging and performances that get deeply into the minds and souls of Britten’s troubled Borough.   Read more »

Submerged

As part of the celebration of the three-year long restoration of the Theatre Royal de Liege (and, from what we can see in this DVD it is a glorious restoration indeed), the Opera Royal de Wallonie went all the way to find as Belgian an operatic experience as was possible.  The company came up with Stradella, a three-act opera composed by Liege-born Cesar Franck when he was a teenager in the early 1840’s and unseen since then until this production in September 2012.

Franck’s opera was found complete with only a piano score and some “hints at orchestration.”  The company employed composer Luc van Hove to develop the orchestration, and thus was ready to perform the fully orchestrated Stradella for the very first time.  Read more »

The cup runneth over

Even after more than 30 years as a die-hard opera fan there are still parts of the repertoire I haven’t embraced. Benjamin Britten and myself are really only acquaintances and I’ve met Alban Berg but fear we shall never be friends. I really became an opera fan chronologically backwards starting with Puccini and ending, essentially, with Mozart and Handel. Only then came Wagner.

After distilling all those different musical styles and traditions, Wagner wasn’t really that difficult to wrap my head around, with the exception of Parsifal. I would check the score out from the library and follow along dutifully to the broadcasts waiting for the penny to drop. It was years before I finally understood the lengths of its constructive elements and how broad the expanses of melody and leitmotif were within that structure.   Read more »

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Dwarf star

Verdi’s Macbeth poses a challenge to any company with the audacity to mount it.

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Lake, placid

Having recently reviewed Glass’s The Perfect American on this site and participated in spirited discussions about the film Saving Mr. Banks, it is perhaps not surprising that Walt Disney should spring to my mind as I watched the Unitel Classica video of Die Zauberflote from the floating stage of the Bregenzer Festspiele.

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Castanets of thousands

Outdoor arena opera always seems faintly ridiculous.

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When owls attack

Philip Glass’s 25th opera The Perfect American was originally commissioned for New York City Opera during the aborted regime of Gerard Mortier.

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Game theory

I first became aware of the work of Austrian film director Michael Haneke a few years back when I followed a tip from a friend and rented the well-reviewed The White Ribbon.

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Glyph you hadn’t, but you did

f you like opera to look like a museum, the Arena di Verona’s latest video of Aida should jump to the top of your wish list.

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Bowled over

I never thought I’d see the day when Giuseppe Verdi and Benjamin Britten would battle it out for musical superiority but that’s exactly what happened in Los Angeles this year.

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