Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Metropolitan Opera season has officially begun! Let joy be unconfined! Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor (to quote Groucho Marx in "A Night at the Opera.") I've been humming Donizetti for the past twenty-four hours, and may not come down from my opera high for some time yet. Last night's Anna Bolena was a great occasion: there was the frisson of feeling that one was part of an Event; there was the sense of homecoming accompanying the "firsts" of the season: approaching that facade, seeing all the familiar front-of-house faces, and climbing all the stairs before settling into the standing room places at the top of the Family Circle; and most importantly, there was a heck of an opera performance. But before I get to writing up the performance, here are some snapshots of the audience.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
|Les Arts Florissants. Photo (c) Pierre Grosbois|
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
|Persian warriors depicted on the Ishtar Gate (Pergamon Museum, Berlin)|
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
My expectations of Diana Damrau's most recent recital disc were stratospherically high. Damrau is a singer whose technique and musical intelligence I admire, and here she is partnered by none other than Strauss-specialist Christian Thielemann leading the Münchner Philharmoniker. At first listen, I was a little disappointed; the rich detail and intense passion of Strauss's lieder did not come through with the clarity I expected. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say "in the manner I expected," since more, and more attentive listening led to a revision of this judgment. Not all of the songs come through with equal individuality, in my opinion, but Damrau's security of phrasing and excellent diction keep them on a firm footing throughout. With Thielemann and the orchestra I cannot find fault; dynamics and tempi were handled with nuance and insight. Indeed, Damrau and the other musicians seem on this disc to do the reverse of tearing a passion to tatters: subtlety and restraint allow the rich intensity of Strauss's "miniatures," as Damrau calls them, to shine, perhaps differently than the listener expects them to.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
September is upon us, Gentle Readers, and with it the return of additional academic responsibilities. This autumn will be the second half of my preparation time for the oral exams for which I have been studying throughout the summer. I'm also teaching two classes, full to bursting with students who need to acquire skills, and who I hope will acquire some enthusiasm for the subject. I know, it's nothing to do with you... except that all this activity will probably result in a somewhat pared-back blogging schedule. The other possibility is that I will go slightly insane and attempt to take refuge in my familiar rituals of attending classical music events, resulting in a frenzy of emotionally overwrought responses to same. Stay tuned to find out what happens! In any case, I'll be enjoying the glorious golden weather and the autumn fruit, and I hope you'll be able to do likewise. I'll take this opportunity to note that subscribing to posts in some form (whether by RSS feed or following the blog) will save you the trouble of checking back for posts that aren't here. For now, though, Gentle Readers, I leave you with Keats and Rilke, and one of the few lesson scenes in opera which does not involve disguises and/or crazy hijinks.