Mystery score

Mystery score

Monday, January 26, 2015

Met Cancels Tonight's Iolanta / Bluebear Performance

On account of the weather, road conditions, and public transit closures:
Due to the road closures and likely cancellation of public transportation because of tonight’s adverse weather conditions, this evening's performance of Iolanta/Bluebeard's Castle has been cancelled.  Audience members will be contacted and offered refunds or alternative performances. 
The performance on Thursday, January 29 will now be the production premiere of our new staging ofIolanta/Bluebeard's Castle.

For further updates please visit www.metopera.org/weather.

Probable Intinerary

Trip planning is hell for some people, but not for me.
  • SFO -> Munich (Lufthansa, which flies the route nonstop)
  • Visit Dachau
  • Visit Schloss Neuschwanstein
  • Visit Schloss Hohenschwangau
  • Visit Schloss Linderhof
  • Other sites in & around Munich? Suggestions welcome!
  • Nuremburg
  • Mosey up to Bayreuth
  • Sit on my naturally well-padded backside for seven out of eight days in Bayreuth (but I am bringing a cushion too)
  • Back to Munich
  • Home
And while I'm away, take lots of pictures, drink excellent German beer, eat excellent German sausage, etc. I like German wines, too!

Planned reading: Doktor Faustus, Faust (Goethe), translations of the libretti, maybe Tony Judt's Postwar, which I have already started once, or a short bio, if there is such a thing, of Richard W.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Compare & Contrast 29: Wong, Berg, Brahms


  • Joshua Kosman, Chron, enthused
  • Kalimac, Kalimac's LiveJournal, disliked the Wong & Berg and the Brahms performance as well.
  • John Marcher, A Beast in a Jungle, mostly enthused

I have a ticket for tonight and I'm hoping to be well enough to use it.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Canadian Opera Company 2015-16 Season Announcement

Canadian Opera Company's 2015-16 season includes a Canadian opera! And also Christine Goerke:

  • October 8- November 6 2015 : La Traviata, Verdi; Guardarini/Siurina/El-Khoury, Castronovo/Haji, Kelsey/Westman
  • October 20- November 7 2015: Pyramus and Thisbe/Combatimento/Lamento, Feldman, Monteverdi; Debus/Szabo, Addis, McCausland
  • January 23- February 14 2016: Siegfried, Wagner; Debus/Vinke, Goerke, Radner, Held, Ens, Ablinger-Sperrhacke, Purves
  • February 4-27 2016: Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart; Debus/de Souza/ Wagner, Archibald, Wall, Braun, Fons
  • April 12- May 15 2016: Carmen, Bizet; Carignani/Margaine/Rachvelishvili, Thomas/Pomeroy, Van Horn/Nelson, Osborne/Boucher
  • April 29- May 14 2016: Maometto II, Rossini. Bicket/Pisaroni, Crochetto, Sledge, DeShong
Well, there's some excellent casting in there. The Rossini is almost the same cast I saw in Santa Fe a couple of years back, but Elizabeth DeShong will be better than Patricia Bardon was. Good casting for Carmen, and the COC, thinking ahead, gets an early look at Christine Goerke's Siegfried Brunnhilde. Which I bet will be complete will trills. Heil dir, Sonne!


(Dates and links shamelessly lifted from Opera Tattler, but I added the rest.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Doctor Atomic in Real Life

A couple of months back, thanks to Kalimac, I started reading Alex Wellerstein's nuclear secrecy blog, Restricted Data, which exists at the intersection of military history and technical history. It's just fascinating stuff.

Wellerstein has just completed a two-part series called Oppenheimer, Unredacted, which I highly recommend if you're interested in the career of J. Robert Oppenheimer, hero (or anti-hero) of John (Coolidge) Adams's opera Doctor Atomic. The two postings are of interest not only because of the interesting light they shed on Oppenheimer, but because of how Wellerstein located the unredacted transcripts and, especially, his analysis of how the transcripts were censored prior to release, that is, the logic behind what was removed and what was not.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bartoli Returns

A late addition to the Cal Performances schedule: a pair of performances by Cecilia Bartoli, on March 31 and April 2. The mezzo has been heard locally in concert a number of times, but has never appeared with San Francisco Opera. 

Oddly, she's singing works recorded on Sacrificium, which came out a while ago. Her current CD is St. Petersburg, music from 18th C. Russia. I don't much like her on record, at least when she's singing fioriture, but I may go to this one.

Tuesday, March 31, at 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 2, at 8:00 p.m.
Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Bancroft Way at Dana Street, Berkeley

Recital
Cecilia Bartoli, mezzo-soprano
Sergio Ciomei, piano

Program: Mezzo-soprano Cecila Bartoli sings works from her Grammy Award-winning album Sacrificium. Her program, which she is singing for the first time in the United States, celebrates the art of the castrati during their golden age in the 18th century.

Tickets: Prices begin at $45.00 and are subject to change. They are available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at calperformances.org, and at the door.

Ojai Festival 2015

Steven Schick is the curator of this year's Ojai Festival. I already had a few excellent reasons to love him - like the fact that he is a tremendous musician and percussionist - and the programming gives me a couple more. There's a special focus on Pierre Boulez (and his music will be programmed with that of Bartok, Messiaen, and Ravel), and unlike the last five years of Ojai programs, female composers feature prominently.

Here's the jaw-dropping lineup for the festival, after the jump (Ojai North looks like it won't feature the full program, sigh):

Lieder Alive! Upcoming Concert

Did you know about Lieder Alive!? If so, you're ahead of me: I just learned about this excellent organization, a "fiscally-sponsored affiliate" of San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music that is dedicated to furthering the teaching, performance, and appreciation of German art song.

Lieder Alive (I'm going to drop that awkward bit of punctuation, because it makes my sentences look odd) is presenting a tasty program on Sunday, January 25, 2015. Now, that is a tough day: Paul Jacobs in playing Messiaen on the Rufatti organ at Davies and SF Contemporary Music Players will present a fabulous program at Hertz Hall (it's got two pieces by Birtwistle, that's how fabulous). 

But if you can get to the lieder program...well, it is excellent and will feature some new music as well as old. From the press release:

Jessica Wan, soprano
Laura Dahl, piano
Natalie Parker, clarinet
Paul Yarbrough, viola

Featuring works by Mahler, Schubert, and Schumann and the World Premiere of Michael Kaulkin's Zwei Hülshoff Lieder for soprano, clarinet, viola and piano

Der Hirt auf dem Felsen by Franz Schubert 
Märchenerzählungen by Robert Schumann
Rückert-Lieder by Gustav Mahler 

Sunday, January 25 at 5:00 pm
(Doors open at 4:30)
Chorissima Hall at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center
44 Page street, San Francisco
$35

I heard one of Michael's choral works a couple of years back and liked it a whole lot. I wish I could get to this program! I can't, but there are more excellent concerts coming up later this year. (All at 5 p.m. Sundays, though, a very difficult time for me.)



News You'd Rather Not Hear

I've now heard from two different sources that SFS principal trumpet Mark Inouye auditioned for Phil Smith's spot in the NYPO, and has been offered trial weeks. A web search found confirmation on a trumpet forum. (And I should ask the NYPO when his trial weeks are.)

It's possible he won't get an offer and it's possible he won't take it. I'm hoping he sticks around, for the obvious reason that he is an unbelievably great player.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Missed Opportunity

I was in Portland for a long weekend, seeing an assortment of friends. I made my social arrangements before I did research on possible concerts. I also completely forgot to check the Oregon Symphony, and as a result, I had dinner plans that would have been difficult to change. I also couldn't extend my stay because of my theoretical 4:15 p.m. jujitsu class and, well, work.

So I missed THIS program:
Carlos Kalmar, conductor
Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano 
Dutilleux, Symphony No. 1
Messiaen, Oiseaux ExotiquesLiszt, TotentanzRavel, Bolero
I would have chosen my seat so I could sneak out after the Liszt.

I'll get to see M-AH this week anyway, at the MTT Birthday Bash, but oh man. The things I do for love.

Your Job as a Publicist.

Going over some old ground, but: if you are a publicist, your job is to make it as easy as possible for journalists, including bloggers, to write about the event you are publicizing. A few notes, after just getting a completely inadequate pitch for an interesting looking program:
  1. Learn to write a press release.
Oh, wait. That is about it. Because a good press release will include the who/what/where/when about the program and will be interesting enough to give me a reason to write about it.

If all you do is say "interesting program by [ensemble]" and provide me with some links, you're leaving it up to me to research what I need to write a decent blog posting. That takes time - and mine is as valuable as yours. So make it easy for the people you want to write about your event.

Edmund Crispin's Swan Song

A friend with whom I've chatted about mysteries many times over the years pointed me (back to) Edmund Crispin a while back. I read some of the author's Gervase Fen mysteries back in...oh...the 1970s? 80s?

Crispin published the Fen novels from 1944 to 1979, and certainly Fen is, in many ways, straight out of the golden age of the British amateur detective tradition. Somehow, the police tolerate and even accept the work of an amateur untrained in police work, allowing him to interview witnesses on his own and somehow never scolding him for, say, moving the body before the police arrive. Oh, yes, I did grimace at that.

Swan Song is built around the rehearsals for a production of Die Meistersinger, the first postwar British production, in fact, circ 1947. Crispin gets most of the musical details right, although I am dubious about the existence of a tenor who sings both Ernesto in Don Pasquale and Walther in Meistersinger, not to mention the soprano whose repertory includes the Marschallin (accent on the third syllable), Salome, Eva, and....Mimi? Well, she's English, so who knows. Eva Turner's early career included Musetta!

And of course in a book called Swan Song that's about murder and Wagner, the opera should be Lohengrin.

But the best musical bit is this; it is completely unrelated to the plot and funnier in context:
...A few new-comers drifted in and uttered reluctant apologies to [the conductor]. The tuba-player arrived, unpacked his instrument, and began making a sound like a fog-horn on it, while the rest of the orchestra chanted "Peter Grimes!" in a quavering, distant falsetto.

Dallas Opera Season Announcement

Dallas Opera announced the other day; they're calling the season "Seeking the Human Element." (I don't understand; isn't all of opera about the human element?) Anyway, here it is:
  • Great Scott, world premiere. Jake Heggie, libretto by Terrence McNally; Oct. 20 - Nov. 15.  Summers/DiDonato, Perez, von Stade (!), Gunn, Roth Costanza.
  • Tosca, Puccini. Nov. 6-22.  Villaume/Magee, Monsalve, Aceto.
  • Becoming Santa Claus, world premiere. Mark Adamo, libretto by Mark Adamo; Dec. 4-12. Villaume/Rivera, de Leon, Boehler.
  • Manon, Massenet. March 4-12. Jenkins/Perez, Costello, Crossley-Mercer. Production by David McVicar.
  • Show Boat, Kern. April 15-May 1. Villaume/Churchman, M.T. Simpson, Cambridge, M. Robinson, A. R. Simpson, Teeter, Gold
Great Scott looks promising, between the plot (involving the premiere of a lost bel canto opera), cast, and composer. Show Boat is the same production we had in S.F.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Compare & Contrast 28

You could say I had some doubts about The Merry Widow 1) in the gigantic Met 2) as a vehicle for Renee Fleming. Here are the three reviews I've seen:

  • Anthony Tommasini, Times, milquetoast. He's waaaaaay too polite, but read between the lines and it does seem he's unhappy with it.
  • Zerbinetta (whose scholarly specialty is Viennese operetta), Likely Impossibilities, more in sorrow than in anger
  • James Jorden, NY Observer, waspish.
Really, all three are saying the same thing, except that Zerbinetta and JJ just come out and say what they're thinking.

An Oldie but Goodie

After the Charlie Hebdo attack, it seems apropos to re-read this classic article from The Onion. As a technical writer, I take particular pleasure in this:
"I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Meanwhile, Back at San Francisco Opera

Joshua Kosman has been thinking about the future. He's certainly not the only person who has thought of Francesca Zambello. I would expect that Sarah Billinghurst, late of the Met, formerly of San Francisco Opera, might also be a candidate, given that one of her dreams was to run a company. But she's around the same age as David Gockley, and the board ought to go for someone younger.

That's Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Shotgun Players in Berkeley has quite an astonishing 2015 season. There are six plays:
  • Antigonick, by Anne Carson
  • Heart Shaped Nebula, by Marisela Treviño Orta 
  • Top Girls, by Caryl Churchill
  • Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl
  • The Rover, by Aphra Behn
  • The Mousetrap, by Agatha Christie
And six staged readings:
  • Ohio State Murders, by Adrienne Kennedy
  • The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence, by Madeleine George
  • Bethany, by Laura Marks
  • To Be Announced, by an Excellent Woman Playwright
  • The Children's Hour, by Lillian Hellman
By now, you might have noticed something about the season, and you'd by right. The fine people at Shotgun were so pissed off when a major American theater company* presented a season with no work by women - while claiming it was very diverse - that they put together the season above.

I saw Shotgun's marvelous staging of Tom Stoppard's Coast of Utopia trilogy last year, in a marathon one-day presentation, and it was thrilling and wonderful. Also, because their theater, the Ashby Stage, is tiny, you're right on top of the action even if you're in the back row. So subscribe now! You won't be sorry.

* I think it was the Guthrie, a couple of years back.

Did I Say Something About Calixto Bieito?

Why, yes, I did. Something about seeing a Rossini comedy only if it were a Bieito production set in an abbatoir.

Another opera I have seen too often with mediocre direction and singing is Carmen, which is ubiquitous in the culture in that people who know nothing about opera have heard the habanera, the seguidilla, and the toreador song. And...somehow, San Francisco Opera has picked up Bieito's Carmen production for the 2015-16 season.

Okay, not quite: the press release says "based on" that production, and not directed by Bieito. Presumably that means that SFO can edit the production if it wishes. Still! I will have to go. And it's a coup for the company: as the press release says, this is Bieito's first opera production in the US.

And it will be a good summer in 2016, with the double-cast Carmen, Don Carlo (alas, in Italian, but hot damn, look at the cast - finally, I will see this masterpiece with the singers it deserves), and Jenufa, though goddamn, it's the Tambosi production I saw in 2007, with the damn rocks in its head, not SFO's beautiful Zambello production. On the other hand, Karita! as the Kostelnicka!

To sum up the 2015-16 season, it is well balanced and well cast and worth seeing. My personal regret is that there is nothing being presented except Usher House that I have not seen already.

It's David Gockley's last season as general director, though we will be seeing his programming for a couple of seasons after this. There are some enticing bits in the press release, most notably this:
 In early 2016, the Company will produce, for the first time, a winter/spring season of intimate and innovative operatic works, to be presented in the new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera’s 299-seat Atrium Theater in the Veterans Building adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House.
Here's the full lineup, with cast and conductor and whatever else seems worth listing in the bullets.
  • Luisa Miller, Verdi; September 11-27. Luisotti/Crocetto, Fabiano, Hampson, Siwek, Semenchuk, Silvestrelli. Zambello production; Yeargan design; Feldman, director. Hampson, really? Still not convinced he's a Verdi baritone, but this is a lighter role than Anckarstrom.
  • Sweeney Todd, Sondheim; September 12-29. Summers/Finley, Blythe, Stober, Madore, Grills, Tigges. Can this production overcome the hazards of musical theater in a 3200-seat theater?
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti; October 8-28. Luisotti/Damrau, Beczala, Mulligan, Teste. New production from the Susannah team.
  •  The Magic Flute, Mozart; October 20-November 20. Foster/Appleby, Sierra, Sly, Shagimuratova, Reiter, Fedderly. Jun Kuneko production, which I hated the first time around. I, uh, didn't care much for the English version either: it's a mashup of the Martins and David Gockley.
  • Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Wagner. November 18-December 6. Elder/Grimsley, Jovanovich, Willis-Sorensen, Cooke, Gantner, Anger, Shrader. Co-production with Glyndebourne and Chicago. Really, I am Not a Big Fan of the most unfunny comedy of all, but with this cast....
  • Il Barbieri di Siviglia, Rossini. November 25-December 9. Finzi/Meacham, Mack, Barbera, Corbelli, Silvestrelli, Cooke. Same production seen in 13-24.
  • Usher House (Gordon Getty) and The Fall of the House of Usher (Debussy/Orledge); December 8-13. Foster/Mulligan, R. Croft. Ahem. The Debussy is a completion of an unfinished work; Berkeley Opera did a different completion in the 90s, on a double bill with Bluebeard's Castle, several performing venues ago. This should be an....interesting....pairing.
  • Carmen, Bizet; May 27-July 3, 2016. Carlo Montanaro conducts two casts. Roberts/Costa-Jackson, Jagde/Massi, Nelson/Sumuel, Sierri/Grimaldi. Set in post-Franco Spain. Okay!
  • Don Carlo, Verdi; June 12-29. Luisotti/Fabiano, Stoyanova, Krasteva, Kwiecien, Pape, Silvestrelli. Same production seen 15 years or so ago, I believe, but infinitely better casting.
  • Jenufa, Janacek; June 14-July 1. Belohlavek/Bystrom, Mattila, Burden, Quinn. Note that Mattila is singing the Kostelnicka, not Jenufa!
I'll be skipping Magic Flute and Barbieri, but I'm in for the rest.

Some statistics:
  • Andrea Silvestrelli has four roles: Wurm in Luisa Miller, Bartolo in Barbieri, Night Watchman in Meistersinger, Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo
  • Brian Mulligan, described by Joshua Kosman as "nearly indispensable," continues his run of baritone roles, taking Enrico in Lucia and the baritone roles in the double bill.
  • For the second season in a row, Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts only three productions. They're all right in his wheelhouse, but what gives with this? Runnicles almost always had four or five.
  • Not yet announced: Papagena in Magic Flute and Grandmother Buryja in Jenufa.
  • No Pat Racette.
  • No Christian Van Horn! What will we do without him??
The press release is long, long long. Read the whole thing here. However, here are the company and role debuts:


201516 COMPANY DEBUTS

Ain Anger                                            Veit Pogner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Paul Appleby                                     Tamino in The Magic Flute
Calixto Bieito                                      Production of Carmen
Lee Blakeley                                       Director of Sweeney Todd
Malin Byström                                   Jenůfa in Jenůfa 
Sir Mark Elder                                    Conductor of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Lawrence Foster                              Conductor of The Magic Flute
Martin Gantner                                                Sixtus Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Erika Grimaldi                                    Micaëla in Carmen
Nadia Krasteva                                  Princess Eboli in Don Carlo
Marie Lambert                                  Revival Director of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Elliot Madore                                     Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd
Riccardo Massi                                  Don José in Carmen
Carlo Montanaro                              Conductor of Carmen
Zachary Nelson                                 Escamillo in Carmen
Scott Quinn                                        Števa Buryja in Jenůfa
Joan Anton Rechi                             Revival Director of Carmen
Ian Rutherford                                  Associate Director of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Ekaterina Semenchuk                    Federica in Luisa Miller
Rafał Siwek                                         Count Walter in Luisa Miller
Krassimira Stoyanova                     Elisabetta in Don Carlo
Nicolas Testé                                     Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor
Rachel Willis-Sørensen                  Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

201516 ROLE DEBUTS

Stephanie Blythe                             Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd
William Burden                                 Laca Klemeň in Jenůfa 
Malin Byström                                   Jenůfa in Jenůfa 
Sasha Cooke                                      Magdalena in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Richard Croft                                      Edgar Allan Poe (Usher House) and The Doctor (La Chute de la Maison Usher)
Michael Fabiano                               Rodolfo in Luisa Miller and Don Carlo in Don Carlo
Gerald Finley                                     Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd 
Matthew Grills                                  Tobias Ragg in Sweeney Todd
Greer Grimsley                                 Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Thomas Hampson                            Miller in Luisa Miller
Brandon Jovanovich                       Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Elliot Madore                                     Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd
Karita Mattila                                     Kostelnička in Jenůfa 
Brian Mulligan                                   Roderick Usher in Usher House and La Chute de la Maison Usher
Scott Quinn                                        Števa Buryja in Jenůfa
Ekaterina Semenchuk                    Federica in Luisa Miller
Alek Shrader                                      David in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Nadine Sierra                                     Micaëla in Carmen
Andrea Silvestrelli                            Wurm in Luisa Miller
Rafal Siwek                                         Count Walter in Luisa Miller
Philippe Sly                                         Papageno in The Magic Flute
Heidi Stober                                       Johanna in Sweeney Todd
Michael Sumuel                                Escamillo in Carmen
Rachel Willis-Sørensen                  Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Wayne Tigges                                    Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd

Monday, January 05, 2015

Is This an Improvement?

At next week's San Francisco Symphony programs, John Adams, rather than MTT, will conduct Grand Pianola Music. Orli Shaham and Marc-Andre Hamelin are the pianists, as previously announced.

Malcolm McDowell will recite the Devil's lines in Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat, which MTT is still going to conduct.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Six-Week Women's Self-Defense Class, Starting January 17

You'll learn alertness, awareness, & avoidance; practical defenses against common attacks; basic kicks and strikes. Suitable for women age 16 and up.

Dates: 6 Saturdays, January 17 to February 21, 2015

Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


Cost: $125 + short-term AJJF membership. No one turned away for lack of funds Class must have a minimum of six participants registered. Class size maximum is 10. Convenient Berkeley location (first class is in Oakland.)

Questions? Post a comment or call the dojo phone number, 510-842-6243.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

First Out of the Gate: It's Seattle Opera!

Season announcement season for summer 2015 and 2015-16 started today with Seattle Opera's announcement of their 2015-16 season. This is being billed as the first with Aidan Lang's imprint, but this is the moment when I have to mention that David Gockley, who retires as SF Opera's general direction at the end of the 2015-16 season, is planning all or most of the two seasons past his retirement. This was also the case when Pamela Rosenberg left SFO. Considering that there is a commission, which must have been arranged at least two years ago, you should probably not base your opinion of Aidan Lang's programming on the upcoming season.

Except for the commission, which is from Jack Perla, it's a middle-of-the-road season:

  • Verdi, Nabucco
  • Wagner, The Flying Dutchman
  • Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro
  • Donizetti, Maria Stuarda
  • Bizet, The Pearl Fishers
  • Perla, An American Dream
Full casting is here; press release is here

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last of the Year Lookback

Not a great year for the number of concerts I got to, owing to jujitsu at inconvenient times and the couple of months of either being sick or taking care of my injured partner (or both). Still, many great things among what I did see. In no particular order:

  • Birtwistle at 80 festival at the Barbican Centre in London, with special thumbs up for Gawain and the rarely-seen Yan Tan Tethera.
  • Peter Grimes at San Francisco Symphony, one of the greatest opera performances I've ever seen.
  • Herbert Blomsted at SFS, conducting the Nieslsen clarinet concerto and Schubert's Great C Major Symphony, a program that showed the usually-boring Schubert for the great piece it really is. Don't ask me how he did it.
  • Norma at San Francisco Opera. Pretty great singing, there.
  • West Edge Opera's summer season, with a truly funny and touching Boheme and bang-up performances of Hydrogen Jukebox and The End of the Affair. (The latter is not a very good opera, but the performance was first-rate.)
  • Juliana Di Giacomo in Ballo at SF Opera, though I'm certainly sorry not to have heard Krassimira Stoyanova.
  • Lianna Haroutounian in Tosca at SF Opera. A major voice comes to town.

Heroes of the Year 1: Osmo Vanska, Robert Spano, and our man Donald Runnicles, for standing with the musicians during the lockouts as Minnesota and Atlanta.

Anti-Heroes of the Year 1: The executives at Minnesota and Atlanta, for locking out those on whom their own jobs should rightly depend, and for not understanding that the business of orchestras is to play music.

Heroes of the Year 2: Everybody in San Diego who pulled together to keep SD Opera from going dark.

Anti-Heroes of the Year 2: The clowns at SD Opera who thought they just couldn't go on and tried to close the company down.

Eye-Rolling of the Year: Peter Gelb's threats to lock out the Met. 

Cowardice of the Year: Also to Peter Gelb, for caving to donors and various people who'd never seen the opera and canceling the HD broadcast of The Death of Klinghoffer.

Those Who've Left Us: I'm of course missing a few, but click this link for my obituaries. Ave atque vale to the dead, with a special nod to the great sopranos Licia Albanese and Magda Olivero, and to tenor Carlo Bergonzi.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Baritone Swap at the Met, Continued

Ludovic Tézier is still ill, and has ceded all of his remaining scheduled Met performances as Giogio Germont to Quinn Kelsey (January 14) and Alexei Markov (January 17, 21, and 24). Wishing Mr. Tézier a swift recovery!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Irving Fine, Here and There

At Brandeis University, where I went to college, we heard the name Irving Fine pretty regularly, because he'd been an important early member of the music department and because of the annual concert in his memory. I therefore have absolutely no idea of how well-known he was and is elsewhere in the musical world, although in ten years of peering at offerings from local music organizations, I can't remember seeing anything of his on a program. Certainly his marvelous Alice in Wonderland songs live on, but the rest?

It seems there is a revival of interest. Recently, the NY Times published a terrific Will Robin* article on Fine. (It also discusses Harold Shapero and Arthur Burger, fellow members of the Brandeis music department, both of whom I took classes from.) Ethan Iverson has a long discussion of Fine and his music at Do the Math. Read 'em both, and then pick up some recordings of Fine's music.

Update: Will Robin himself tells me that the Boston Modern Orchestra Project is recording all of Fine's orchestral works. The CD can be pre-ordered and will be published in January, 2015.


* I interrupt myself to report that search at the NY Times is so fucked up that a search for William Robin returns Robin Williams first. NO. But that's what I get for not putting his name in quotation marks.