Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Sunday, December 8, 2019
|Lise Davidsen and Yusif Eyvasov, photo @ Ken Howard|
One dilemma Met operagoers love to fret about is how new productions inevitably sell well, but revivals quickly become tired and poorly attended. This season new productions of Porgy and Bess and Akhnaten were sold out but revivals of Manon and Orfeo ed Euridice played to half-empty houses.
The answer seems to be: inspired casting. This afternoon's performance of Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades was pretty sold out despite the production being nearly 25 years old. The cast ranged from good to great. The production by Elijah Mohinsky is nothing fancy but tells the story well and effectively creates a doom-and-gloom mood. There was nothing tired about this revival.
Monday, November 25, 2019
|Jessye Norman Memorial|
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
|Solea Pfeiffer as Eva Peron, photo @Sara Krulwich|
I can't believe I'm using Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as examples of skillful dramaturges but Evita was everything that Akhnaten wasn't. Tim Rice was not afraid to paint his own picture of Eva Perón which mixed fact with fiction. Webber's music portrays the different facets of Perón-- her naked ambition in "Goodnight and Thank You" and her shiny charisma in the anthem "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." So I know that Philip Glass is a much superior composer to ALW, but Evita was engaging in all the ways Akhnaten wasn't.
Saturday, November 16, 2019
|Anthony Roth Costanzo as Akhnaten, photo @ Karen Almond|
Akhnaten (1984) is the last opera of Philip Glass's "Portrait" trilogy. The others are Satyagraha (about Mahatma Gandhi) and Einstein on the Beach (about, well, Einstein). Akhnaten in the14th century B.C.E. upended the ancient Egyptian religious system for a monotheistic religion that focused on the sun-god "Aten." For the libretto of Akhnaten Glass drew upon primary sources from the Amarna period. He even insisted on presenting most of the opera in ancient Egyptian with no surtitles.
Monday, November 11, 2019
Sesame Street turned 50 this week. The beloved children's television program has made kids laugh and learn for half a century. In addition to teaching kids the alphabet, phonics, basic math and some Spanish Sesame Street has never made any bones about pushing a larger social message of inclusiveness and cultural education. The show takes place on a large urban street and the characters reflect the diversity of NYC. The furry monsters co-existed despite having their own personalities, quirks, and (this is important) different fur color. Sesame Street did not dumb down its material for children -- its skits taught children not just the ABC's but how to settle conflict, how to express affection for each other, and how to deal with difficult issues like death. They even had an episode that addressed 9/11.
But you already knew all that. What I didn't realize was the wonderful arts tributes Sesame Street included over the years. I went on YT and found a goldmine.
Sunday, November 3, 2019
|Lifar and Danilova in the original Apollon Musagete|
Sunday, October 27, 2019
|Lisette Oropesa, 2019 Richard Tucker winner|
Because of who happens to be in NY this time of year the lineup was less starry than usual. But there were no cancellations, so there's that.
Friday, October 18, 2019
|Alonso in 1949|
Instead as I'm home yet again because of an awful ankle injury, I'm looking at Alicia Alonso films and comparing them to the written word. Alonso was a favorite subject of famed critic Edwin Denby and trying to compare what Denby thought with video evidence is important, because Denby saw her in her absolute prime in the 1940's.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
|NYCB dancers in Summerspace, photo @ Erin Baiano|
2019 was a slower year than usual in the second half because of a horrible ankle injury that left me housebound for much of the time. Th...
Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, and Anita Rachvelishvili, photo @ Ken Howard In 1937 the legendary soprano Rosa Ponselle was losing her up...
Domingo at his 50th anniversary gala last season Yesterday Plácido Domingo's 51 year career at the Met suddenly came to an end whe...
Anthony Roth Costanzo as Akhnaten, photo @ Karen Almond The Met company premiere of Philip Glass's Akhnaten is generally considered...