Sunday, November 8, 2020

Been a Long Time But ...

Well, well, well. It's certainly been a long time since I've written on this blog. First things first: Happy Days Are Here Again! The Orange Monster has finally been dethroned from his reign of terror. 

I also started reviewing again. Here is my review for New York CIty Center's Virtual Fall for Dance:

 New York City Ballet ballerinas Tiler Peck, Ashley Bouder and Brittany Pollack performed the three female solos from Balanchine’s Who Cares? Tiler Peck’s Fascinatin’ Rhythm solo was worth the price of admission, her trademark speed, daring, musicality and ability to play with the music and steps was a joy to watch. Ashley Bouder and Brittany Pollack didn’t quite match Peck’s brilliance but it was still a joy to see the fast footwork of NYCB ballerinas on display.

 I also reviewed NYCB's week of original choreography. Review is here:

The last ballet, Justin Peck’s Thank You, New York, has the most chance of staying in the repertoire. It’s set to Chris Thile’s song of the same name and most resembles something that would actually be danced by NYCB. There are four separate dancers who are filmed in different parts of NYC. The choreography strongly resembles Peck’s “sneaker” ballets like The Times Are Racing – lots of fast footwork, with the sneakers mimicking tap shoes as they moved frantically across the pavement. The use of flat streets for this ballet was smart – the dancers did not seem constrained by their surroundings. Taylor Stanley, Sara Mearns, Christopher Grant and Georgina Pazcoguin all threw themselves into the steps. Stanley and Grant were amazingly fast and graceful. It was a piece d’occasion that also had artistic merit.

 But let's all watch this moment again:

Friday, July 3, 2020

Hamilton on Disney Plus - Happy Independence Day!

The United States on July 4, 2020 might be the bleakest it's ever been since, well, idk ... the summer of '68? The Great Depression? Civil War? Ever?

Therefore the release of Hamilton (filmed in 2016) on Disney Plus is a balm for the frayed nerves of the country. It's also a dream come true for the many musical theater fans who never saw the now-legendary OBC. When I saw Hamilton in 2018, some of the replacement cast was great (Micheal Luwoye as Hamilton), but a lot of the cast was quite frankly disappointing.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Best Moments from the Met At-Home Gala

Zoom in!

So the big Metropolitan At-Home Gala ended up being 4 hours-long (!!!), and had the expected glitches in wifi connection, as well as some of the usual vocal highs and lows that are par for course with big galas. Also: these voices are OPERATIC and when they sing they PROJECT so it was weird and occasionally painful to hear them blasting the microphones of their iPads. But overall it was a lovely afternoon of music-making that certainly gave reasons for people to donate to the Met during these difficult times (I know I did). Here were my favorite moments:

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Tiger King or Met Opera?

Since y'all not going to pretend that y'all aren't spending your quarantined days watching Tiger King, the seven-part Netflix series with a menagerie of characters so wacky and out there you can scarcely believe they really exist, this week's survey of the Met livestream offerings with just make comparisons to how watchable they are versus Tiger King.

So without further ado, here's the run-down of this week's Met streaming schedule (can you tell that I'm writing this between re-watching episodes of Tiger King?)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVIDammerung -- The End of the World in Met Streams

The Norns say it's the end of the world!
The nightly Met streams continue this week. Someone behind the dial at the Met must have a dark sense of humor -- for the first week of streaming they included La Boheme and La Traviata, two operas where the heroine dies of a specific infectious respiratory illness that was often acquired by lack of social distancing. This week they are doing an all-Wagner week which happens to include ... wait for it ... Götteradamerung.

So try to forget the fact that the Met season has been canceled! Try to forget that everyone in NY and NJ is essentially locked in our houses! At the Met website we can watch the End of the World! Without further ado, here are some of my totally irrelevant musings on the Met HD offerings this week. Either way, these Wagner operas are great cleaning routines. You can disinfect your residence three times over BEFORE the first intermission:

Saturday, March 14, 2020

For the CoVid Apocalypse

On March 12, 2020 basically everything in NYC shut down. In one fell swoop The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, The New York Philharmonic shuttered its doors for the remainder of March. Broadway is closed until at least April 12.

I felt very lucky that I literally caught the last show in town -- on March 11 I saw a wonderful off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors. Gideon Glick (Seymour) was so endearingly shy as Seymour and Christian Borle (Odin/other roles) was hilarious as the sadistic dentist. I haven't seen a production of Little Shop of Horrors since our high school did it and Audrey II sent shock waves through the auditorium when he said "No shit, Sherlock." (My high school was a very conservative place.) I also caught a preview performance of Martin McDonagh's The Hangmen which now might never open. Again, a play definitely worth seeing if it ever opens. Has a lot of dark humor and a very ambiguous ending. The cast which included Mark Addy, Dan Stevens, and Tracie Bennett was terrific.

In the wake of this CoVid Apocalyse, the Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera will stream some past HD's on their websites. Social distancing made a little more bearable.

Here is this week's schedule. I saw all these HD's and have revisited these performances either on Met Opera on Demand or DVD and here's my totally irrelevant opinions on whether these HD's are a must-see or whether you can fire up the Netflix binges instead. Stay safe everyone, and wash your hands!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Met's New Dutchman Drowns

Dutchman set, photo @ Ken Howard
New Wagner productions around the opera world are considered Events. Expectations are usually high. The thinking is that it's hard to mount Wagner without a worthy cast, so therefore performances tend to be worthy. Francois Girard's new production of The Flying Dutchman was highly anticipated. It got the NYTimes promo treatment. Sure the original Dutchman Bryn Terfel had to withdraw because of a broken ankle but still, this should have been good.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Agrippina: In Which I Brave Baroque Opera Seria

Evil, evil people. Photo @ Marty Sohl
Some people are afraid of snakes. Other people are afraid of heights. Me? I have another phobia: baroque opera seria. Nothing strikes more fear into my heart than hours of da capo arias. Listening to those ornate A-B-A melodies is more intimidating than twelve-tone music, more intimidating than John Cage's "random sounds," more intimidating than a root canal. But life is all about conquering fears, and today I sat through Handel's Agrippina. I was buoyed by good reviews and also the availability of cheap rush tickets on HD day.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

La Traviata's Second Cast is First Best

Oropesa and the rest of the Traviata cast, photo @ Richard Termine
In a Met season there always is an unspoken pecking order regarding revivals. Some revivals are heavily promoted with lots of press, sometimes a New York Times or Opera News profile and an HD transmission. Others are quietly tucked into a season and come and go with no fanfare.

The second cast of the Met's revival of La Traviata seems to have fallen to the bottom of the totem pole -- it didn't even merit a promotional video on the Met's Youtube channel. Too bad, because it's the strongest revival of the year. It surpassed the first cast (starring Aleksandra Kurzak, Dmytro Popov and Quinn Kelsey) in every way. From curtain to curtain it was just a very well-sung, moving performance. Even Michael Mayer's shallow, gaudy production looked better with performers as sincere as Lisette Oropesa, Piero Pretti, and Luca Salsi. (Germont's silent daughter popping up in inopportune moments is a directorial conceit that unfortunately has not been 86'ed.)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

West Side Story: Total Momsical Failure

Tony and Maria pulled apart, photo @ Sara Krulwich
Every year I try to take my mom to one Broadway musical. My mom requires two things: 1) it be a classic musical; and 2) it's not R-rated. So this year I bought tickets to Ivo van Hove's highly discussed revival of West Side Story. When it was over my mom beat a hasty retreat out of the theater. I asked her what she thought. "I wanted to see West Side Story, not a home video of West Side Story!"

Been a Long Time But ...

Well, well, well. It's certainly been a long time since I've written on this blog. First things first: Happy Days Are Here Again! Th...