Mystery score

Mystery score

Friday, October 31, 2014

Now We Are Ten

My first posting introduced me, and some of the details are still true. In my third posting, I blamed opera-l.

But actually, I should have blamed Alex Ross. I started blogging because I saw that he had a blog (and a very good blog it is). In the last decade, I've had years with more and fewer postings, depending on my energy at any given moment or in any week, or my determination to stick with a story. Or even depending on whether I'm on a shuttle to work that has tables. (Maybe you can use a laptop on your lap, but I can't.) I've occasionally thought about shutting down the blog and putting my energy elsewhere, but invariably that just means I need a short break.

It's been a great ten years. I've loved meeting my readers and fellow bloggers, whether by email or in comments or in person or on the phone. You energize me, goad me, make me think, and occasionally enrage me. Thank you for reading me, and I hope to still be doing this in another ten years.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Domino Effect: Met Cast Changes

Marina Poplavskaya has withdrawn from her scheduled Met Traviata performances (as Violetta, natch). The results:
  • Sonya Yoncheva sings the tubercular courtesan on January 14, 17, 21, and 24, making her North American and Met role debut. (She would have originally sung this role in San Francisco in June, but withdrew because of pregnancy.) 
  • To sing Violetta, Yoncheva withdrew from some Boheme performances, where she was to sing Musetta.
  • Marina Rebeka sings Musetta on January 15, 19, and 24.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All That AND Joyce Di Donato!

Awright, that was some series, and I say that as someone who hadn't watched a baseball game in years. Hunter Pence! Pablo Sandoval! (Pay him what he wants!)

And what about that Madison Bumgarner?!?! Three Two wins and one save in this series! Pitching five innings in relief after going to whole nine on Sunday! Terrifying consistency and absolute cool!

The Royals are a terrific team and it was a great series.

SF Opera Cast Change: La Cenerentola

Baritone Efrain Solis, an Adler Fellow, will sing Dandini in the upcoming run of La Cenerentola, replacing Fabio Capitanucci, who has withdrawn for health reasons. Cenerentola opens on November 9 and runs to the 26th.

Solis had a memorable couple of minutes on stage in Un Ballo in Maschera, somehow upstaging everybody else on stage as Christian, a sailor. "Everybody else" included Dolora Zajick, so you can imagine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Compare & Contrast 27

Some disagreement about LA Opera's Dido & Aeneas/Bluebeard's Castle double bill, directed by Barrie Kosky.
  • Out West Arts: "You should see the double bill that LA Opera just opened on Saturday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It’s not just that it is one of the best productions the company has mounted in the last four years. It’s also evidence that the company has without question transitioned into a new artistic era." [There follows a lot of praise of Kosky, the productions, and the singers.]
  • David Gregson's Opera WestAttending Los Angeles Opera’s current double bill on opening night Saturday, I was mildly surprised to discover that many people do not know Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas very well — or, indeed, at all. If they had the slightest affection for it, stage director Barrie Kosky’s hideously misguided contribution would perhaps have enraged the audience. But I detected nary a boo and Kosky’s ludicrous travesty was met with warm approval.
  • Mark Swed, LA Times: Tough to excerpt this one!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rubin Institute for Music Criticism

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is hosting the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism November 5-10, with a host of events at various places. I have some thoughts, which I'll try to get into a separate posting, but there's a press release below the cut. I also received a press release about the Rubin Fellows, a talented group of most-double-majors from four colleges and universities. (That in itself is interesting: does this mean it's tough luck if you go to Brandeis or Reed?)

Honoring Jonas Salk

The great scientist's 100th birthday is on October 28, 2014, and there's a Google Doodle in his honor:

The polio vaccine has prevented thousands of cases of polio annually just in the United States. 

Welcome Back!

After much too long a break, I am so happy to see that new postings are appearing at Out West Arts, the fabulous Los Angeles (and world-spanning) music, opera, theater, and sometimes art blog. Welcome back, Brian!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Revelations about Suzuki

Violinist and teacher Mark O'Connor reports on research showing that Shinichi Suzuki, creator of the Suzuki (violin) method, fabricated his musical resume. He has more a few critical things to say about the method itself, too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Key Man Insurance

Key man insurance [sic] is what companies buy when the death of a particular individual would have a severe impact on a company's business operations.

I report up to Urs Hölzle, not Alan Eustace, but I have to admit that when I saw the news that Alan had made a parachute jump from 136,000 feet, my first thought was to wonder what happens to a company's key man insurance when an executive does something like that. (This is undoubtedly because I spent the first six years of my work life in the insurance business.)

Because I am a ghoul, my second thought was to be grateful that he was on the front page of the Times because he'd survived, rather than on the obits page because he hadn't.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Cast Change: Carmen

Same as on the 13th:

Aleksandrs Antonenko is ill, and rather than calling in the regular cover, they've got Brandon Jovanovich singing Don Jose in tonight's performance of Carmen. Jovanovich is currently rehearsing for Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why We Need Proofreaders

Received in the mail, a fund-raising letter over David Gockley's name and signature. Somewhere in the bowels of the War Memorial Opera House, someone is grimacing, and it's not over the missing serial comma, either:
We were able to present a superb roster of performers that day, all of whom will grace our main stage this fall. What a line-up! Thomas Hampson, Brandon Jovanovich, Brian Mulligan, Heidi Stober, Ramon Vargas and the powerhouse soprano Dolora Zajick, as well as our own recent Adler Fellow Brian Jagde. San Francisco Opera is one of the few opera companies in the world that can deliver that kind of star power in one place at one time.

The Death of Klinghoffer Media Roundup

Reviews are coming in; watch for updates:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Klinghoffer Sock-Puppetry

I hardly ever read opera-l these days, but happened to take a look because of all the Klinghoffer opinions flying around. And what do you know, the first alphabetic posting is by our friend "Genevieve Castle Room," and it cites something a lot like what I found on my blog the other day:
  • GCR quotes "John Blackburn on Twitter": "Sad that Adams is held in such esteem. Musically bland pabulum spiced withprogrammatic narrative. By programmatic narrative, I mean his fondness for political libretti and such—cover for light musical thought"
  • "Carrie Theuring" on my blog: "It's sad that Adams is held in such esteem. Musically bland pabulum spiced with programmatic narrative."
Update: John Blackburn is real. I'll assume that "Carrie Theuring" is one of many pseudonyms used by "Genevieve Castle Room," so "Carrie" is the sock puppet here, quoting Blackburn without attribution.

Guest Post: Death of Klinghoffer Review

Pamela McCorduck, author of Machines Who Think and co-author of The Futures of Women, was at the Met opening of The Death of Klinghoffer and sent me this review, which I am publishing with her permission:

Arrived to a tremendous police presence, which saddened me, but which also reassured me. Ticket holders had to enter at the side of the plaza, which was otherwise completely sealed off; the demonstrators were out toward Columbus Avenue. Plenty of purse-checking once inside the house too.

The production was given a tremendous ovation (which it earned) at the end. The disruptions - one guy yelling out during a quiet moment in the first act (a well-educated voice) that "the murder of Klinghoffer will not be forgiven" seemed to me entirely self-aggrandizing. No one in that auditorium could, or probably would, be forgiving anyone, nor had they the right. The Times says he was escorted from the house and arrested; likewise a woman who screamed "a vulgarity" and though I was seated in the orchestra, as was she, I couldn?t tell what she yelled. 

The opera opens with two choruses in succession, one the exiled Palestinians, one the exiled Jews. Each is an exquisite piece of music (and as my Juilliard instructor pointed out, each lasts to the
minute the same time as the other). After the exiled Palestinians sing, people actually booed. Not because the music wasn?t beautiful and beautifully performed, but because Palestinians in New York
deserve to be booed on principle, apparently. This dismayed me, but there you go. No Palestinians in the audience to boo the chorus of the exiled Jews.

The first act seemed a bit abstract?the choral music was always superb, but the arias less so. I?d have to hear them again to say more. But the second act! It took hold and didn?t let you go. I was utterly wiped out at the end.

Does the opera humanize the terrorists? Yes, it does. Are they admirable human beings? Glamorous? Not in the least. But to acknowledge their pain in exile is only to acknowledge the unpleasant facts, and the opera would make no sense as drama if we didn?t have a little backstory. 

Whereas Klinghoffer and his wife are altogether admirable: from a wheelchair, he speaks truth to power, in the old phrase, a guy standing in front of him with a machine gun--a hugely courageous
thing. The conjugal love between them is beautifully delineated. The captain is subtly characterized (a peacemaker, and a courageous man who, even at gunpoint, lies about Klinghoffer's death to the
authorities on land because he suspects that if the death is reported, mayhem will come from land and many more will be killed). He offers his own life to the terrorists, because as "host" on his ship, he has failed his "guests."

Before, at intermission, and after the performance, an electronic bulletin board told how the opera differed from the facts, and what happened to the main characters, including the terrorists (they were
eventually released from prison). The program itself had a page-long statement from the Klinghoffer daughters, which was heartfelt, but contained a major confusion between art and real life. It was their father; they're entitled to the confusion. 

Even Rudi Giuliani, who was outside leading the protestors, admitted that he loves the music, and listens to it "without listening to the words"? I can't think why. This is in no way propaganda. It's a
deeply moving piece of art. 

How it got the reputation of being anti-Semitic just baffles me. Yes, one of the terrorists talks about "Jewish exploitation of the poor," but that's the stuff you've heard since you were four, and in
this case, it quickly changes to "American exploitation." But the Jewish characters themselves are portrayed with deep sympathy and subtlety, which the Palestinians are not. Their sorrow has
degenerated into fanaticism, which may be human, but isn't to be admired. 

To me, it was an irony that fanatics were outside protesting an opera which nearly none of them had seen nor knew anything about.

 My report from the field,

Monday, October 20, 2014

Curtain Up!

The latest on The Death of Klinghoffer, which opened this evening at the Met. Here are the latest articles about this opera.
Here's a Twitter feed for Klinghoffer (no hashtag). Zerbinetta: "Protestors are yelling “shame on you! Despicable!” as we enter the plaza."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Cast Change: Aida

From the Met:
George Gagnidze will sing the role of Amonasro in five performances of Verdi’s Aida this season, replacing the originally announced Andrzej Dobber, who has withdrawn from the performances. Gagnidze will sing Amonasro on December 26 and 29 and January 2, 5, and 10 matinee. 
Gagnidze first sang Amonasro at the Met in 2012. He will sing the role in a new production at La Scala this spring. The Georgian baritone made his Met debut in 2009 in the title role of Verdi’s Rigoletto, a role he repeated with the company in 2010 and 2013. His other Met performances have included Scarpia in the 2010 season-opening new production of Puccini’s Tosca, the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth, and Shaklovity in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina. This April, he will add a new role to his Met repertory when he sings Tonio in a new production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.
 The December and January performances of Aida are conducted by Marco Armiliato and also star Tamara Wilson and Marjorie Owens, both in their Met debuts, in the title role; Violeta Urmana as Amneris; Marcello Giordani and Carl Tanner as Radamès; Dmitri Belosselskiy as Ramfis; and Soloman Howard as the King.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Congratulations to A Beast in a Jungle!

The San Francisco Bay Guardian* has named fellow blog A Beast in a Jungle as the winner of its readers' poll for Best Arts/Music site! Congratulations to blogger John Marcher.

Note Beast's Coming Up, Calendar, and Half-Price Ticket links. You might find this stuff useful.

* Just in time to go under. We know, we know.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Evidence-Driven Pentagon

The extreme left-wingers at the Pentagon say that global climate change is an immediate threat to national security. I look forward to the climate-change-denying Republicans in Congress trying to cut or deny Pentagon funding to deal with related issues.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Temporary Header

I probably won't leave the musical header up there for too long - I can't figure out how to make it a background image for the blog title and colophon - but I hope at least some readers recognize it.