Sunday, October 28, 2018

Marnie - All Style, Little Substance

Marnie and her dopplegangers, photo @ Ken Howard
I have an admission to make -- I've been horrible about attending new, contemporary operas. I did have tickets to Written on Skin a few years ago but vacation plans got in the way. But in general I just have not kept up with the contemporary opera scene.

Part of this is pure laziness -- given the choice between, say, Verdi/Wagner/Puccini and Thomas Ades, it's easy to just go with the tried-and-true. But part of it is also my strong conviction that musical theater is the art form that has the highest quality of new staged, sung dramas. Not every new musical is worthy but Fun Home, The Book of Mormon, Waitress, Dear Evan Hansen, The Great Comet, Hamilton are just some of the outstanding sung dramas that have graced the stage in the last 10 years.

Nevertheless tonight I decided to go to Nico Muhly's Marnie, partly because reactions to the opera have been so varied. I know people who absolutely loved it and those who thought it was trash. Tippi Hedren attended the premiere and claimed to love it. Nevertheless it has people talking. It has buzz. And from production stills, it has great costumes.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Jonas Rides Back Onto the Met Stage; A Star is Born

Johnson seduces Minnie, photo @ Ken Howard
Over four years ago I saw Jonas Kaufmann's final Werther. It was the HD performance. The whole run had been a huge success and during his curtain call fans tore up programs from the family circle boxes so it rained confetti. Little did I know that he would not return to the United States to sing for nearly four years. The short story is he canceled a lot. The long story is he canceled a lot.

But 2018 was the year Jonas changed his mind about singing in the US? I can't believe this but I've now seen him four times in less than one year -- a lieder recital in January, a concert version of Act 2 of Tristan in April, and a rather disappointing concert a few weeks ago. Still to see Jonas back on the Met stage was something I was afraid was never going to happen again. I was a mix of excited and jittery last night as I took my seat for La Fanciulla del West. My heart sunk when there was a curtain announcement. The poor guy who came out was clearly dreading the audience response. He held up his hand as if to say "Don't kill me." But it was simply that Kaufmann had a cold and he asked for our "understanding."

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Farewell Joaquin

Joaquin soaks in the audience adoration
Joaquin de Luz made his farewell to NYCB this afternoon after 15 years with the company. The program was a decent one -- Theme and Variations with Tiler Peck, Suite of Dances, and Todos Buenos Aires. It was a memorable emotional afternoon as many of his colleagues could be seen wiping away tears during the curtain calls. But in a sense the entire fall season has been a farewell tour, as de Luz danced almost all his signature roles for the last time. I didn't have a chance to see him in Other Dances and Prodigal Son (back to school means busy schedule), but I did see his "farewell" to four of his most well-known roles: Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Rubies, James in La Sylphide, and the short sailor in Fancy Free. In all those roles he was technically impressive. You could never tell that he's 43 and has had a number of injuries over the years.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Jonas Kaufmann's Carnegie Hall Concert: Don't Ask Me Why

Jonas Kaufmann accepts bouquets
In 2014 Jonas Kaufmann released a recording called You Mean the World to Me. It was a delightful tribute to the operetta hits that made legendary tenor Richard Tauber so popular. I have that album downloaded on my phone and it's one of my favorite running/cardio playlists. The lilting waltzes get me in a groove mentally and before I know it I've ran 5k. In short, it's one of the albums I return to over and over again.

Therefore I had high hopes for Kaufmann's concert at Carnegie Hall. It was also titled "You Mean the World to Me" and promised an evening full of operetta hits. The positives first: he showed up? The cancellation-prone tenor I think now knows how antsy his fans are about his appearances, so his Instagram account even had pictures reassuring his fans that he did indeed get on a plane to NY. Can't believe this but this is the third time I've seen him this year. And I'll see him again in Fanciulla del West at the Met (fingers crossed).

Balanchine's Nutcracker pops up ... everywhere

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