Author Archive | Robert Levine

400-Plus Years Of A Cappella With New York Polyphony

Le Poisson Rouge, 156 Bleecker Street, NYC; April 11, 2017—There were two remarkable things about the recent show at Le Poisson Rouge, the nightclub/music venue in New York’s Greenwich Village. Most important, of course, was the four-man group known as New York Polyphony–and I’ll get to them in a moment. But the event also heralded […]

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Pärt’s “Passio” At St. Bart’s: Glorious Stasis

St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Park Avenue, NY, April 4, 2017—Listening to Arvo Pärt’s Passio one wonders how a piece of music that is almost self-consciously undramatic moves people so thoroughly. The 70-minute work, all of a piece (without “numbers” or places to pause), composed in 1989, is scored for four soloists (SATB) who act together […]

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Estonian Choir in Church with Arvo Pärt

Church of St Ignatius Loyola, New York, NY; February 1, 2017—Presented by the organization Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, the concert on February 1st was in the exquisite German Baroque Revival Church of St Ignatius Loyola on 84th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan; surroundings and music were perfectly wed. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber […]

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Rossini’s Operatic Swan Song, Guillaume Tell, At The Met

Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, N.Y. October 25, 2016—It has been 80 years since the Metropolitan Opera staged Rossini’s final opera, Guillaume Tell. A gigantic work lasting four-plus hours, here it is presented almost complete, with only a piece of ballet and a few recitatives omitted—about 15 minutes’ worth. The issue with it is not its […]

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Ailyn Perez Sings Glorious Mimi At The Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY, September 28, 2016—It’s always good to re-visit the Met’s production of La bohème, particularly when new singers have been called in to navigate the vast stage with Franco Zeffirelli’s stunning and gargantuan sets. Critics balk at the scale of the production, some claiming that the singers get lost in […]

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Mascagni’s Overwrought Iris Shines At Bard

The Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y; July 31, 2016—Although Mascagni’s Iris never achieved the popularity of the composer’s Cavalleria rusticana, within four years of its Rome premiere it had been heard in Milan, all over Europe, in South America, and in New York. To my ears, it comes in third in Mascagni’s oeuvre, after […]

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Daniel Catan’s Florencia Invigorates New York City Opera

Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater; New York—The second installment in the New York City Opera’s hoped-for renaissance recently emerged victorious, unlike its ill-advised Tosca several months ago. Borrowing the production from Nashville Opera, it presented the New York premiere of Daniel Catan’s lush, neo-Romantic Florenzia en el Amazonas, which premiered in Houston in 1996 […]

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Camarena Conquers The Met Again In Donizetti Comedy

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; March 15, 2016—Don Pasquale, Donizetti’s final comic opera, and fifth from last of a list of almost 70, is a gem, dessert-like in its airiness, with a few poignant moments as well. Amid all of the familiar plot conventions involving tricking an old, foolish man out of his romantic […]

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A Welcome Latonia Moore in Met’s Butterfly

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; March 2, 2016—Four years ago I attended a Saturday matinee performance of Aida at the Met at which a soprano named Latonia Moore was announced moments before the curtain rose as a replacement for an indisposed colleague. A sturdy, handsome African-American woman, she had every bit the measure of […]

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Senseless War-Torn Manon Lescaut

Metropolitan Opera, New York; February 15, 2016—Manon as film noir femme fatale? Well, she certainly is selfish and leads her lover to ruin, but why on earth update the opera to the 1940s in Nazi-occupied France? For those who have seen quite enough Nazis in opera productions that do not call for fascism of any sort, […]

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