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.

Read More

Comments [3]

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.

Read More

Comments [3]

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.

Read More

Comments [4]

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.

Read More

Comments [11]

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.

Read More

Comments [21]

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.

Read More

Comments [3]

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?

Read More

Comments [34]

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.

Read More

Comments [19]

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.

Read More

Comments [61]

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.

Read More

Comments [7]

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."

Read More

Comments [18]

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.

Read More

Comments [187]

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:
Read More

Comments [31]

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.

Read More

Comments [29]

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?

Read More

Comments [6]

Aguilera's 'Star-Mangled Banner'

Monday, February 07, 2011

Naomi Lewin writes: "With all the hoo-ha over Christina Aguilera's reinvented lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl, I have to say that I have some sympathy for her. I can relate."

Read More

Comments [51]

Classical Super Bowl Commercials

Friday, February 04, 2011

In advance of this weekend's game, we’ve identified some current and previous Super Bowl ads that prominently feature symphonic music. Have a look and tell us why classical music is often used to sell everything from cars to soda.

Read More

Comments [20]

We're Listening

Friday, February 04, 2011

In this special show, Q2 explores the work of the composer Milton Babbitt, who passed away on Jan. 29 at age 94. Included are many longtime Babbitt colleagues, students and fellow composers whose lives he's touched.

Read More

Comments [5]

On 90th Birthday, Egyptian-American Composer Expresses Concerns for Homeland

Thursday, February 03, 2011

As the world watches the events unfolding in Egypt, among those paying close attention is Halim El-Dabh, the Egyptian-American composer, performer and ethnomusicologist. WQXR's Nimet Habachy spoke with him.

Read More

Comments [11]

Conductors under 40: Wave of the Future or Passing Fad?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Midge Woolsey wonders, "is youth is the magic bullet for what ails orchestras right now? Do today's young conductors have what it takes to live up to the hype?"

Read More

Comments [21]