Beloved literary asshole Milan Kundera has a well-developed understanding of kitsch. “Kitsch,” he writes, as if on cue, “causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!” Kitsch, I would clumsily add, is the second yuk. It says: how nice to be part of the laugh track. Read more »
Cecilia Bartoli, the revered, ebullient, and unique mezzo-soprano, does not like to fly in airplanes. Yet she managed to journey to St. Petersburg, Russia—apparently she swam there, if we are to trust YouTube—to dig up the preferred tunes of 18th century “tsaritsas” (empresses). Ms. Bartoli is known for her innovative projects and for the infectious enthusiasm she brings to them, but certainly she must be setting records here—we are talking 11 (count them) world-premiere recordings. And what a thrill for the audience at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, which hosted not one but two sold-out evenings with the reigning queen of opera-you-never-would-have-known joined by the superb I Barocchisti ensemble under the direction of Diego Fasolis. Read more »
If you are of the belief that Show Boat can stand on its own as a classic score and thus doesn’t need the trappings of musical production, you’ll love the New York Philharmonic’s “semi-staged” production. Conductor/director Ted Sperling presents the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein classic as almost entirely a concert opera. Only a thin backdrop of an old-fashioned river-boat set the scene. The singers and dancers were dressed in modern evening wear, and the action is limited to the thin apron of the Avery Fisher Hall stage. Sperling uses the entire Philharmonic, instead of the usual pared-down orchestra that’s typical for these musical presentations. Read more »
This was the kind of night that proves the haters right: sometimes opera is boring.
At the first intermission at last night’s Met revival of Aida, I turned to my companion and said, “So… what about the Aida? I thought she was supposed to be good.”
The San Francisco Opera is batting a thousand where young singers are concerned this season.
There was wonder and magic last night in Philly when The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society presented British tenor Mark Padmore and American pianist Jonathan Biss in a recital devoted to the songs of Schumann, Tippett, and Fauré.
Gotham Chamber Opera, which began to operate twelve years ago with a double bill of Bohuslav Martinu’s quirky little pieces, opened its 2014-15 season with two more, Alexandre bis (Alexander, twice) and Comedy on the Bridge.
America hasn’t exactly been vigorous about commemorating the 250th anniversary of the death of Jean-Philippe Rameau.