Jessica Rivera unveils Mark Grey’s Fire Angels at Zankel Hall

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

As the San Francisco Opera readies its new September 11-themed work, Heart of a Soldier, for a world premiere this fall, Carnegie Hall is unveiling its own premiere commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The luminous soprano Jessica Rivera, alongside pianist Molly Morkoski and Ensemble Meme (under conductor Donato Cabrera) gives a first listen of the Carnegie co-commission, Ātash Sorushān (Fire Angels) in her Zankel Hall recital this evening.

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Remembering Lee Hoiby, Distinguished Composer

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lee Hoiby, a master of 20th-century art song and opera, died in New York City earlier Monday following a brief illness at the age of 85. The news was confirmed by Hoiby's publisher.

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The Diva (Part One)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One of the tasks I have set for myself in writing this blog is to help readers understand the many components of opera and provide correctives when necessary. You are, of course, welcome to disagree with me and, because opera lovers are an opinionated lot, I know some of you will. All I ask is that we get the terminology and history right so that our opinions and feelings can come forth in the proper context.

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At New York City Opera, Three Far-From-Monotonous Monodramas

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Upon assuming the post at New York City Opera two years ago, general manager and artistic director George Steel made it his mission to nudge the troubled company forward. How profoundly that mission resonated Friday night, writes Olivia Giovetti.

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Rescued from Obscurity, Part Deux

Friday, March 25, 2011

Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Gioachino Rossini’s opera Le Comte Ory. Hard to believe that it premiered in 1828, and this is the first time it’s being done at the Met.  Granted, there’s almost no plot, and what there is seems hopelessly politically incorrect. But then so are lots of opera plots, so how much does it matter when there's such delightful music involved?

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A Rossini Debut and Some Welcome Returns at the Met’s Le Comte Ory

Friday, March 25, 2011

Theatricality abounds in Rossini’s operas. The composer trades in devices such as mistaken identity and hyperbole nearly as often as he does with coloratura riffs and grand ensemble numbers. So when Peter Gelb assumed directorship of the Metropolitan Opera in 2006, he couldn’t have made a better choice with pegging Broadway director Bartlett Sher to helm a new production of Rossini’s most famous work, Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Sher, a relative neophyte to the genre, made magic out of the classic score and story. The production has since served as a vindication for some of the company’s recent artistic missteps.

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The Music that Accompanied Elizabeth Taylor

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The list of Elizabeth Taylor's films includes daring, challenging stories, and they were scored with exceptional music. Here are a few of host David Garland's favorites.

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Reducing Exhaust Fumes, the Operatic Way

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

While the Met has a well-earned reputation for presenting some of the brightest stars in the operatic firmament, it has also recently garnered some harsh criticism for the number of promised artists backing out. Clearly something’s gotta give, but what that something is remains a gray area.

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Must the Show Go On?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I have been asked, often, about how the cancellations by important artists affect casts, productions and audiences. I will address this at some point with you, but something else has been on my mind.

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Opera in Every Sense

Monday, March 21, 2011

When I was asked to contribute to a blog about opera for WQXR.org I accepted without hesitation. Many people who know me say that I live on a metaphorical Planet Opera, which I take as a compliment even though opera is only part -- a wonderful part -- of the fabric of my life. I know that anyone who embraces opera, which is to say loves opera rather than merely “appreciates” it, lives more richly and is usually more in touch with the human experience. This is because opera addresses, on many levels, the core issues and questions of who we are.

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City Opera's Spring Season Kicks Off with a Potent 'Elixir'

Monday, March 21, 2011

It’s hard not to imagine Jonathan Miller as a living incarnation of L’Elisir d’Amore’s Doctor Dulcamara. Like Donizetti’s itinerant shyster, Miller breezes into an opera house with a flourish, bringing with him his knighthood, medicinal background and reputation for being—in Dulcamara’s own words—a Dr. Encyclopedia. And for some audiences, Miller’s operas (the most famous of which perhaps being the Mafioso Rigoletto set in 1950s Little Italy) are on par with the questionable wares peddled by Dulcamara.

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Rescued from Obscurity

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Naomi Lewin Theory of Obscure Music says that obscure music is usually obscure for a good reason. But every once in a while, a piece comes along that disproves the theory. What piece do you think is neglected?

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Why It Was Time for James Levine to Step Down

Thursday, March 03, 2011

When I heard that James Levine was resigning as music director of the Boston Symphony, I felt what many people probably did: relief that he might now be able to recuperate fully from the hard few years he’s had, medically.

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Why Public Broadcasting Matters

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Those of us who love and value classical music are in the minority," writes Midge Woolsey. "We'll always be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to protecting our interests." But it's a battle worth fighting.

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Frederica von Stade's Farewell to the Opera Stage

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It is impossible to believe that Frederica von Stade has truly left the opera stage after a 40-year career. Can it be possible that I first saw my then-new friend, Flicka in 1971 at the Metropolitan Opera? She was playing Violetta’s friend, Flora Bervoix in La Traviata. I saw her again a few days ago at the Houston Grand Opera, where she sang the role of the heartbroken mother of a condemned man in Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s searing and achingly painful opera, Dead Man Walking.

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Aging Singers

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Naomi Lewin observes: "Through a combination of good genes and career choices, some singers, like Placido Domingo, are the Energizer Bunnies of their profession; others crash and burn far too young."

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How Has Classical Music Added Romance to Your Life?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last year, in celebration of Valentine's Day, we asked prominent musicians how classical music added romance to their lives.

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Saturday Morning Cartoons

Friday, February 11, 2011

We are playing classical music from a Saturday Morning Cartoon today at 9:00 am. The music is Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. It has been used most memorably in Rhapsody Rabbit, a Bug's Bunny Warner Brother's cartoon from 1946:
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The Romantic Sound of Broadway's Golden Age

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hey, musical theater fans! I know, I know -- WQXR is a classical music station. But this morning I had the sound of Broadway on my mind, and I came into the office singing a song from a classic piece of American musical theater: Brigadoon, the 1947 Lerner and Lowe show about the enchanted Scottish village that appears every hundred years for only one day.

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Bach, Brahms and Brad

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Brad Mehldau, that is. The music of the jazz pianist/Carnegie Hall-commissioned composer entered my ipod world through his interpretation of Radiohead’s Exit Music. I was immediately struck by how lyrical and intricate his sound was and have been a fan ever since. When I heard Mehldau was presenting a solo piano recital on January 26 at Zankel hall of his own works, interspersed with repertoire by Bach, Brahms, Faure and pop and jazz transcriptions, I wondered, what was he going to do with “those” guys?

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