Cher Public

In the River Rhine. In it.

It is always a pleasure to hear a great orchestra take on a major score that might sound half-muffled emerging from the pit of an opera house. Das Rheingold, free to burst in the air and dazzle our ears is sure to make Wagnerians happy. Geffen Hall seldom provides a supreme auditory experience, but there were many extraordinary moments in the course of its valedictory to retiring Maestro Alan Gilbert last Thursday night (repeated Saturday and Tuesday; tickets do remain). In all the familiar Wagnerian welter, there were swatches of flavor and color that had not struck me before—like figures of speech in a Shakespeare play in some new actor’s interpretation. This is the sort to make any such occasion fascinating.  Read more »

d’Arc victory

Tonight’s program at the New York Philharmonic, Arthur Honegger’s massive oratorio dramatique Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher, has been an occasional visitor to the orchestra’s repertoire starting with the performance conducted by Charles Munch in January of 1948.  Despite its slight 70 minute running time, it’s a vast polyphonic work that attracts that certain species of conductor who enjoys showing off the adroit command of large forces both orchestral and choral. As well one can hardly imagine the near electro-magnetic tug actresses must feel at the opportunity of playing one of the most mythic women of the middle ages and not get scorched by the process.   Read more »

Rolling along

Photo by Chris Lee“As Italo Calvino has been widely quoted, ‘A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.’ That’s certainly true of a classic in non-literary form, the musical Show Boat, presented in concert format last week by the New York Philharmonic. Musical theater fans have lived with this show all their lives, and so have a couple of generations before them, but the piece continues to communicate, even in the less than perfect circumstances of this latest revival.” [New York Observer]

Levee duty

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.

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Blood types

“The finale of Sweeney Todd left the stage of Avery Fisher Hall littered with corpses, but the evening, for all its flaws, felt vibrantly alive.”

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JJ au naturel

Our Own JJ has been spending a lot of time outdoors lately, which is such a novelty for him that he felt he really must write about it.

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Dan Sharp-Ears

I had every reason to think I’d love the New York Phil’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen as much as I did their staging of Le Grand Macabre with the same creative team.

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21st century fox

“A singing crossbreed—a fox with human intelligence—stars in Leos Janacek’s opera, The Cunning Little Vixen. If only the New York Philharmonic’s semistaged performance Wednesday night were as successful a hybrid.” [New York Post]

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