Archive | Reviews

Filarmonica della Scala On Top Form In Mahler 2

La Scala, Milan; October 16, 2017–These are exciting times for the Filarmonica della Scala. Founded by Claudio Abbado to provide La Scala’s regular players with an opportunity to play symphonic repertoire, the orchestra has been getting better and better since Riccardo Chailly became music director two years ago. A recently-concluded tour over the summer, which […]

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Angel Blue, The Met’s New Mimi

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY, October 2, 2017–Franco Zeffirelli’s 36-year-old staging of La bohème at the Met is getting another workout this season, and the first performance brought three debuts. Primary was conductor Alexander Soddy, a 37-year-old Brit who is music director of Mannheim’s National Theatre, where his polyglot taste has taken him from […]

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Glimmerglass’ Porgy A Perfect Grand Opera Version

Glimmerglass Festival, Alice Busch Theater, Cooperstown, NY; August 13, 2017—Deep in operatic lore is the story of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The work is through-composed and huge in scale, and Gershwin opted to have it performed in a Broadway theater despite interest at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. His thinking was that not only could […]

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La Scala Shows There’s Still More Mileage In Zeffirelli’s Bohème

La Scala, Milan, June 7, 2017—Zeffirelli’s superannuated production of La bohème returned to La Scala–yet again. From the naive slapstick to the bonnets-and-cravats period tack, this is aged opera at its tritest–a production one imagines must have felt a little fresher when it opened at this house more than half-a-century ago. But Zeffirelli’s conception is […]

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New York City Opera’s June Offering–Eötvös/Kushner’s “Angels”

The Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY, June 12, 2017—Tony Kushner’s breathtaking play Angels in America was so operatic in itself, with its concentration on character, pinpointed and deeply felt emotions, and huge metaphors that someone had to turn it into an opera. Premiered in Paris in 2004 and since presented in […]

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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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Hibla Gerzmava Rescues La Scala’s Problematic Anna Bolena

La Scala, Milan, March 31, 2017—Donizetti’s Anna Bolena has had a tumultuous history at La Scala. Triumphs include Maria Callas’ legendary live-recorded 1957 performance—an abiding benchmark interpretation. Scandals include Montserrat Caballé’s late-cancellation in 1982, when, for the first and only time at La Scala, an irate audience prevented the performance from going ahead. It’s therefore […]

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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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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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Uneven New Cav/Pag at the Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; April 29, 2015—The Metropolitan Opera’s generations-old productions of opera’s most famous double bill has stood the company in good stead since 1970. Even those who referred to Franco Zeffirelli’s “finest poverty-stricken villages money can buy” couldn’t deny their effectiveness, but it was time for a change. The results are […]

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