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Showing posts from October, 2021

NYCB Waves Goodbye ... and Says Welcome Back

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  Opening of Serenade, photo @ Caitlin Ochs On September 21, 2021, it seemed as if every single balletomane was stuffed into every last corner of the David Koch Theater. NYCB was making its comeback onstage after going dark for nearly 18 months. When the opening chords of Serenade started and the 17 girls held up their hands, the audience burst into ecstatic applause. I had a lump in my throat. Emotions ran so high that the actual quality of the performance barely mattered. But once the endorphins died down and the program progressed to Symphony in C , one had to admit that the company looked a bit ragged. Pandemic rustiness was not limited to us plebes -- ballet dancers also had difficulty getting their arabesque to 90 degrees, difficulty getting off the floor in jumps, difficulty dancing with the freedom and expansiveness that the repertory required.

Boris: Do Russian Leaders Ever Change?

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  RenĂ© Pape, photo @ Marty Sohl There's a leader of Russia. He's corrupt and has killed people on his path to power. He only trusts a few select family members. Are we talking about Vladimir Putin? Of course not! We're talking about Boris Godunov. Mussorgsky's opera could have been written yesterday.  The spare, stark revival at the Met used Mussorgsky's original 1869 score, which does not include the Polish act that Mussorgsky added in 1872. It's also much shorter, more episodic, and makes the opera even more laser-focused on the guilt of the Russian leader. 

"Fire Shut Up in My Bones" Reopens Met

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Will Liverman, photo @ Zenith Richards This conversation has played out several times in my life: I hear about a brand-new, contemporary opera that I MUST see. And I think about all the times I saw a contemporary opera screech on for three + hours and my response is, "Yes, but, will I LIKE it?" Last night I went to the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in 18 months, and I saw a brand-new, contemporary opera that was moving and likably accessible. Terence Blanchard's musical style is tuneful -- he combines jazz, blues, soul, gospel, and pop. Blanchard does not insist that the whole thing is sung-through -- there is dialogue, much like musical theater. The story is direct and heartfelt. The performances were uniformly excellent. The choreography by Camille A. Brown including a show-stopping line dance. Fire Shut Up in My Bones is contemporary opera for people who think that the last great opera was Turandot (1926).