Spotlight: Why Berg's Wozzeck Matters

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

When scaling back his conducting duties this season, why did James Levine choose to conduct Alban Berg over masterpieces by Verdi and Wagner? Fred Plotkin has some theories on WQX-Aria.

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At Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls, Sweet Lovers Love the Spring

Monday, April 04, 2011

Despite the bird-like hum of audience hearing aids, tenor Matthew Polenzani portrayed an innocent soul caught up in the throes of passion as part of a Schubert recital on Sunday. Meanwhile, down Broadway, David Daniels played a "Baroque Elvis."

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Review: The Enraged Accompanist's Guide to the Perfect Audition

Sunday, April 03, 2011

In his new book, a seasoned Broadway composer and accompanist offers candid and often helpful advice that goes beyond often clichéd guidebooks on mastering the auditioning process.

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Planet Opera: Nordic Opera Houses

Saturday, April 02, 2011

"If the new operatic Valhalla is in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark) or its Nordic cousin, Finland, I would have even more motivation to go," writes Fred Plotkin on WQX-Aria.

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Two Broadway Shows: Which One is More Offensive?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

This last Wednesday I attended The Book Of Mormon, the new Broadway musical from the team who created South Park. Then on Thursday I saw the current revival of the classic musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying staring Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame. Just for fun I’d like to compare the two and make the case that How To Succeed is the more offensive of the two.

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Two Adams Combine their Ribs for an Operatic Eve

Friday, April 01, 2011

Earlier this morning it was announced that composers John Adams and John Luther Adams will be collaborating on an opera—the former’s seventh and the latter’s first. Their proposed subject matter? An opera based on the life of Sarah Palin.

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Carlo Guelfi replaces Nicola Alaimo in the CSO's Otello at Carnegie Hall

Friday, April 01, 2011

With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first trip to New York with its new, busy (and injury-plagued) music director, the one cancellation New York audiences have been collectively dreading is that of Maestro Muti. Which is why, when Carnegie Hall sent out an e-mail with the subject “Artist Update: Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” we momentarily held our breaths.

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Planet Opera: Barcelona

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When I give lectures about opera or meet people at performances, I am asked many interesting questions. I hope that readers of my blog posts will write in with questions and I will try to answer them in future entries. The three questions I am asked most come so frequently that I might as well answer them here so we can move on to others.

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David Robertson, on Taking a Snapshot of Mozart’s Brain

Thursday, March 31, 2011

On WQX-Aria, Olivia Giovetti catches up with conductor David Robertson to talk about Mozart’s unfinished opera, Zaïde. Containing no overture and no third act, it is at once opera seria and opera buffa, melodramatic and comic.

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A Coffee with Your Favorite Composer

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I had a really interesting time talking with Jake Heggie recently in The Greene Space here at WQXR. Jake is the composer who first hit the scene in a big way with the San Francisco premiere of his opera Dead Man Walking which he wrote with the playwright Terrence McNally. That was over ten years ago. Since then, the opera has played all over the world. He has written several other operas including Moby Dick, which premiered last year at the Dallas Opera with Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab.

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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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