In a lecture from 1976, Michel Foucault defined the term subjugated knowledge as “historical contents that have been buried and disguised in a functionalist coherence or systemization.” I have often thought of this term—subjugated knowledge—when thinking of queer history—the various methods of coding and decoding that propel a certain type of work within the artistic canon. An elliptical, strange kind of surfacing. For example, is it fair to consider Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray a gay man? What about Sebastian and Charles in Brideshead Revisited? And what to make of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II? Read more »
Gluck composed Ezio for the Carnival in Prague in 1750, a dozen years before he entered his so-called “reform” era. The piece was a hit for a year or two, then (as was usual) forgotten, its music available for judicious recycling. But its success was no freak: This is an exciting score, waiting for the properly schooled forces to restore it to the stage. There have been several happy European revivals lately but none in America. Read more »
Richard Wagner viewed dance as an essential element of art, though he used it sparingly in his operas. The bacchanal he put in the 1861 Paris version of Tännhauser was supposed to depart from classical ballet and serve up an orgy of motion, with figures assembling and reordering themselves, not unlike the physical manifestation of a symphonic poem.
One wonders what he’d make of Staatskapelle Berlin’s 2014 production, now on BelAir Classiques. Director Sasha Waltz’s sweaty pileup of writhing bodies in the opening tableau serves as the jumping off point for a fully choreographed opera in which dancers weave around and through the scenes with sweeping gestures, arresting poses and sometimes sophomoric mimed responses to what’s being sung. Read more »
LoftOpera offered an unusually satisfying, immensely entertaining production of Rossini’s scintillating portrait of an inveterate seducer.
Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of listening to someone tell a joke badly?
“Mr. Levine was conducting his beloved Wagner for what was almost certainly the last time.”
The big news on Van Ness Avenue, it goes without saying, is Calixto Bieito’s operatic debut on these shores.
I can scarcely remember a performance where so many conflicting thoughts raced through my mind as happened Thursday night during the Met Orchestra’s “bleeding chunks” of Wagner’s Ring at Carnegie Hall.
Washington National Opera’s first Ring Cycle came to a bittersweet conclusion this past Sunday, closing the door on an extraordinary three weeks in the opera house and a remarkable musical and theatrical achievement for the company.