John Masko, a native of the Providence, RI area, is an orchestral conducting master’s student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During his undergraduate years at Yale College, John was active in student opera both as a music director and vocal coach, working on productions of Die Fledermaus, Dido and Aeneas, Castor et Pollux, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. After he graduated with a double major in history and music in 2014, John’s diverse interests led him to a two-year international politics research and writing position at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, while he simultaneously studied the art of conducting. He is winner of the 2016 Rubin Institute Audience Review Prize for music criticism.
As Brünnhilde invokes the gods of an empty Valhalla for one last time and strides confidently into a wall of flame, we pause for a moment, unsure of what will follow.
Siegfried is, in a sense, The Ring’s odd one out.
If Das Rheingold is an opera about infinitude, the illusory idea that the world is large enough to satisfy all of our desires, passions, and lusts, Die Walküre is an opera about scarcity.
Casting the Ring as a parable for the state of the current world, seen through the eyes of a progressive urban opera lover (and not an early German nationalist), offers us soothing self-justification.
In recent years, Opera Paralléle has established a reputation for creative programming of contemporary opera in San Francisco. Persuaded both by the promise of an unusual Bernstein-Heggie double bill, and the unusual venue of SF Jazz’s Miner Auditorium, I had the pleasure of attending an excellent production this past week.
I really wished to avoid joining the pig pile of derision that has fallen on SF Opera’s premiere of John Adams and Peter Sellars’ Girls of the Golden West.
It is not easy for an opera company to follow a spectacular production of La Traviata with Massenet’s Manon.
There is a slight chill in the air during the final minutes of La Traviata.
Brian Jagde‘s creative and charismatic Calaf was almost enough to make up for his counterpart Martina Serafin’s distant portrayal of Turandot.
Anna Caterina Antonacci delivered a tour de force of French diction, subtlety of phrasing, variation of vocal timbre, and white-hot stage acting.
Silent Night is in a sense a giant middle finger raised against the conventional wisdom that musical sophistication requires inscrutability.
Ted Hearne’s opera/oratorio The Source brings compositional process and combination of acoustic and electronic elements to the weighty topics of national security leaks, big data, and war.
It is a good rule of thumb that if you emerge from a massive grand opera like Aida feeling any less than overwhelmed, you have a right to be somewhat disappointed.
In one important respect, a great production of Puccini resembles a great production of Wagner.
Janácek’s disconcerting commentary on youth and immortality received a full-throated performance.