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.
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.
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.
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.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Last year, in celebration of Valentine's Day, we asked prominent musicians how classical music added romance to their lives.
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.
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?
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.
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?"
Friday, January 28, 2011
Ok, I admit it. One of my guilty pleasures is getting lost on YouTube. While I hear most of America zeros in on cats doing funny things or the latest teenager doing something stupid, I find myself drawn to old TV shows. How could you not watch Salvador Dali on What's My Line? These clips give us a window into a different time and culture and there’s plenty about classical music to watch.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Speaking of Mozart and his 255th birthday, do you remember the Milos Forman film Amadeus? Just for fun, let’s imagine a remake of the movie and a brand new cast. Whom would you choose to play Mozart? How about Salieri? And what about Mozart’s wife, Constanze?
Friday, January 21, 2011
Behind every successful man there is a woman, or so the old saying goes. In the music world, behind every brilliant soloist there is his or her accompanist. Jascha Heifetz had his Brooks Smith, Anne-Sophie Mutter has her Lambert Orkis, Midori had her Robert McDonald and among many other things, Benjamin Britten was the reliable accompanist to his Peter Pears.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Finally!! Brooklyn lives up to its hipper-than-hip image! Alan Pierson, the 36-year old conductor of the groundbreaking New Music ensembles Alarm Will Sound and Dublin-based Crash Ensemble, is bringing his prodigious talents and badass programmatic instincts to the Brooklyn Philharmonic as their new Artistic Director, effective immediately. Pierson has made a name for himself as a tireless advocate of innovative music through collaborations with composers such as Steve Reich, Aphex Twin, Michael Gordon and Donnacha Dennehy.