Cher Public

Blow a kiss, take a bough

Richard Strauss’s many one-act operas make excellent concert programs, both for their length (usually under two hours) and the primary place each gives the orchestration, a specialty where Strauss’s brilliance seldom deserted him. The wordless apotheosis into godly treehood that concludes his Daphne is rightly treasured, a sublime late Straussian idyll, and a concert performance spares us the muddle he and his librettist made of the myth.   Read more »

Notes on camp

Zofia Posmysz spent two years as a prisoner in Auschwitz—and she’s still alive and standing pretty tall, in New York for the Lincoln Center Festival, God bless her. She made a radio-play out of her experiences, The Passenger in Cabin 45, produced in Poland in 1959, though the national atmosphere was hardly sympathetic to such a tale. For one thing, Posmysz, in a brilliant artistic choice, did not tell the story from her own point of view but imagined it through the mind of the SS officer who tormented her. Read more »

Blind item

“If you’re a hard-core opera buff who finds the Met’s flashy sets and costumes distracting, have I got a show for you! It’s called The Blind, and for the duration of this hourlong Lincoln Center Festival presentation, the audience sits blindfolded and sightless as the opera is sung all around them.” [New York Post]

Monkey business

East is West and West is East—the border ever less easy to fix.

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Joy cometh in the mourning

Is the threnody, the lament over a beloved corpse, the oldest form of song? Surely it is among the oldest; one of the most widespread and stylistically various, millennia before opera was devised.

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Mind over matter

“Scientist, lover, gambler, unwed mother — the 1700s French intellectual Émilie du Châtelet was all these and more.”

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