Archive | Reviews

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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Bartók and Tchaikovsky–Strange Bedfellows at the Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; February 3, 2015–What on earth, one might ask, do Tchaikovsky’s operatic swan song,  Iolanta, a sweet fairy tale with a joyous ending, and Bartók’s weird, cruel, and eerie Bluebeard’s Castle have in common? Iolanta is a princess, blind from birth, whose father, King René, has arranged a lovely garden […]

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Sarah Cahill’s Terry Riley Piano Party

Le Poisson Rouge, New York, NY; January 29, 2014–Terry Riley turns 80 in June 2015, and already the tributes are starting to roll in. On January 29th Berkeley-based pianist Sarah Cahill offered a Piano Party for Terry Riley at 80, honoring the minimalist pioneer with a program of newly commissioned works to celebrate the occasion. […]

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Riccardo Frizza Leads Fresh, Moving Bohème

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; January 19, 2015–Although there are few expressions in music criticism worse than “perennial favorite”, there really is no other way to describe both La bohème and the Metropolitan Opera’s now 34-year-old production by Franco Zeffirelli. The opera needs no apologies or explanations; Zeffirelli’s gigantic, realer-than-real production, on the other […]

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The New York Philharmonic’s Magnificent Messiah

Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY; December 16, 2014–For several years the period-performance aesthetic has dominated the New York Philharmonic’s annual Handel Messiah performances as conducted by such early music specialists as Nicholas McGegan, Ton Koopman, and currently Gary Thor Wedow, who opened the orchestra’s 2014 Messiah run Tuesday night. He presided over an orchestra […]

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