Is Don Giovanni the greatest of all operas? Many have said so. It is highly arguable. I myself would agree with the proposition. The opera presents a large cast of characters, all subject to intense feelings and conflict of feeling, or conflict between feeling and ideas or values. The characters go through changes, or at least dramatic ups and downs. Everything is rendered into highly expressive music, constantly inventive, finding new forms. Some of the many wonderful ensembles (three to six singers) stop time for lyrical outpouring and meditation, but others develop ongoing human interaction and characters’ changes of heart. Sonata form, with exposition and development of themes, embodies human experience in time. As in Shakespeare, comedy gives some perspective on the high drama, here a drama of seduction, rape, jealousy, self-hatred, civilized oblivion to others’ feelings, class conflict, and the easy resort to violence. The title character’s comic servant, Leporello, gives us some space to breathe, commenting on and making light of events — but he is very disturbing in his acceptance and resignation: this is how things are, how things must be.
The Tannery Pond Concerts always start early, and, as I walk across the Darrow School lawns on a Sunday afternoon, encounter friends I haven’t seen for months and greet others I see all the time, I feel that the summer season has really begun. Even Nikolai the Sealyham Terrier war scurrying about the entrance to the old Shaker Tannery, checking out the concert-goers. He knows most of them—both by sight and by smell. I could imagine myself in a scene from Renoir’s La Règle du Jeu. With this particular concert, the season began in earnest, with a brilliantly assembled program and playing of the highest order, but I don’t mean earnest in the sense of “heavy.”
Shakespeare and Company are responding to the economic downturn and their own drastically reduced budget with a blaze of activity. This year’s season will be longer and more packed than ever. It will also mark the transition from one artistic director to another: Tony Simotes will replace founder Tina Packer, who will be concentrating on directing and long-term goals for the company. The summer season has begun early with Romeo and Juliet, performed primarily by a cast of seven young actors who have not yet finished their training, in a production designed specifically for teens and pre-teens. Under the direction of Jonathan Croy, who has worked with high school and middle school children for many years, these actors have spent the winter months touring New England and New York. Now they finally get to play before adults back at the home base.
[Reprinted with thanks from From Beyond the Stave, The Boydell & Brewer Music Blog, originally posted May 5, 2009] Wagner’s operas repel some people and strike others as simply ridiculous. Read more…
Just as the last major events of the spring season approached, including the final performances of Otto Schenk’s production of Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen at the Met, I realized that Read more…
The people behind the Bramble Bar & Lounge have recently opened a restaurant called The Saint on Saint Stephen Street in Stockbridge.
Like Bramble and The Bailie (a fine pub on the western corner of the same street, great for an after-dinner dram), The Saint is located in the underground level of a Georgian building, typical of Edinburgh’s New Town which is renowned for such spaces.