The scene: a vocal audition, sometime in the past. A young, blond soprano approaches the podium. Her aria: “Un bel di.” She sings. Before she gets to the second “Chi sara” she’s rudely interrupted. Read more »
With orchestral and choral forces that could outnumber a small European village, Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder is a composition designed to overwhelm. The young composer was intent on cashing in on the pre-World War 1 fad for gigantism that spawned such works Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and on exploring a full palette of human emotions and natural wonders in a single evening. His fin-de-siècle oratorio deploys upward of 300 performers and contains a kitchen sink of effects, including trombone glissandi, percussion with chains and a surreal spoken “melodrama” about the transformative Nordic wind. Read more »
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 »
Who is the most happy fella, he who perfectly fits societal definitions of fitness and attractiveness, or he who attains self-acceptance in spite of whatever personal idiosyncrasies he may confront?
After her marvelous Pat Nixon at the Théâtre du Châtelet two years ago, June Anderson returned there last Wednesday with pianist Jeff Cohen for a recital of French melodies and Broadway songs.
Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is his masterwork and its themes of social convention and unrequited longing surely struck a deep chord in a composer who, in late 19th century Russia, was gay and had to conduct himself carefully.
About this evening: the opera we saw was Arabella, written by a gentleman named Mr. Richard Strauss.
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.
Perhaps there are not that many people in the world who would look at a CD cover and think “Oh, goody, goody! A libretto by Eugène Scribe I’ve never come across before!”
As someone who thinks Verdi is the greatest composer who ever lived and who feels pretty meh about Mozart, I expected to love the Verdi and be bored by the Mozart. I wasn’t far wrong.