Gerard Mortier

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wherever Gerard Mortier, the "Bad Boy of Opera" goes, he makes waves. As director of the prestigious Salzburg Festival, and now as the head of the Paris Opera, he has shocked the tradition-bound audience with his bold, some say disturbingly distorted, modern interpretations by cutting-edge directors of opera’s most cherished classics – and by presenting what he regards as neglected 20th century opera masterpieces with modern music that can be challenging for many listeners.

A huge risk-taker, he has produced some explosive hits but, by his own admission, has also had his share of spectacular failures. And now he’s coming here to take over New York City Opera based at Lincoln Center right next door to the Met, known for its mostly conservative productions. This controversial appointment assures that sparks will fly. As one leading journalist recently put it, “there’s going to be a Fight at the Opera.

Playlist:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflöte “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen.” Vienna Philharmonic. Sir Georg Solti. Sumi Jo, soprano. London 433 210-2.

Giuseppe Verdi I Vespri Siciliani “Arrigo! Ah, parli a un core.” Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paris. Nicola Rescigno. Maria Callas, soprano. EMI 5 66462 2.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart La Clemenza di Tito. Trio from end of Act 1. Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Sir Colin Davis. Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano; Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano; Robert Lloyd, bass. Philips 422 544-2.

Robert Schumann Quartet for Piano and Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 47. Third movement [excerpt]. Juilliard String Quartet. Glenn Gould, piano. SMK 52 684.

Lewis Allan “Strange Fruit”. Billie Holiday. JWD 102 227.

Olivier Messiaen Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the end of time) “Louange à l’Immortalité de Jésus” (“In Praise of the Immortality of Jesus”) [excerpt]. Ensemble Walter Boeykens. HMA 1951348.

Guests:

Gerard Mortier

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