Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Johannisnacht 2014, Mainz
 A Confession, Gentle Readers: sadly, the last few weeks of the regular opera season around here coincided with successive academic conferences I was rushing about to. Thus, the last few weeks of my time in Germany, which I'd dreamed of filling with irresponsible and irrepressible opera-going, have coincided with the beginning of the Sommerpause, or summer break. Alas. Unable to do anything about this but shed a quiet tear over the Frankfurt season brochure as I consign it to the carefully-sorted trash, I am thus attempting stoicism as I pack all my worldly goods. I'm hoping to be officially moved into NYC (again!) by the beginning of August, in good time for the last hurrah of the city's festivals. I have academic work to do, aged relatives to visit, and nuptials to attend, however, so the length of my own summer break in opera-going is as yet uncertain. Although I have not yet found an apartment, I do know that the women with whom I will be sharing living quarters in the coming year also like opera and opera-going. First things first. And opera-going again soon. But for now, a brief Sommerpause between the excitements of German houses, and whatever New York has to offer.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Old forms, new festivals: Chamber Music Fest Rheinhessen

One of the things I love about this region is that there always seems to be room for another music festival. The Chamber Music Fest Rheinhessen was founded by the Flex Ensemble, a young quartet that entrepreneurially set out to create this opportunity. The weekend included masterclasses, children's concerts, and genre-crossing collaborations with other artists; Friday's opening concert, which I attended, was an evening of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century piano quartets. I never feel as though I hear enough live chamber music, and it was a treat to hear a vigorous young ensemble playing it in an assembly hall packed with music professionals and community members ranging from elderly couples to young families.

Friday, July 4, 2014

La liberté pour nous conspire? Guillaume Tell

Fighting over the future: Guillaume Tell, Act III. Photo © Bayerische Staatsoper
A confession, with apologies to those whose opera-related obsessions center on bel canto: thrillingly-sung Rossini is not a phrase that ordinarily trips from my tongue. For Wednesday night's performance of Guillaume Tell at the Bayerische Staatsoper, however, no less a word than thrilling would do. I went in with few concrete expectations, but I'd never heard Michael Volle live before, and having heard Bryan Hymel live once, I couldn't pass up the chance to do so again. So, after a morning on a train and an afternoon in the archives, I found myself directly under the ceiling of the sold-out house; following the example of fellow-students in the last row, I clambered up on the railing in front of our seats in order to see (disclaimer: my view was partial due to the angle, and occasionally interrupted due to the fact that my calf muscles could not handle constant rail-balancing.) Despite a production more impressive in concept than in execution, it was a musically and emotionally engaging evening, in which all the principal singers gave performances of remarkable passion and precision.


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