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Archive for June, 2010

Paula Robison and Cyro Baptista. Photo © 2010 Michael Miller.

Everything but the Vuvuzela: Brazilian Music comes to Tannery Pond – Paula Robison, Romero Lubambo, Cyro Baptista Trio at the Tannery Pond Concerts

Music that is somehow outside the accepted parameters of classical music appears at the Tannery Pond Concerts once or twice every season. For example, in 2008, soprano Amy Burton and pianist John Musto presented a program of show tunes from Broadway and the Grands Boulevards. Or mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, whose singing of Vivaldi, Handel, and Rossini is so highly regarded in Europe and America, combined German Lieder with zarzuela numbers, an enthusiasm she acquired from her Mexican-born mother. Now, for Tannery’s 20th anniversary season, Music Director Christian Steiner has asked Paula Robison and her colleagues, Romero Lubambo and Cyro Baptista (both Brazilians who have settled in the United States) to return after a ten-year absence, to play the Brazilian music which has attracted a warmly enthusiastic following since the early 90’s when they first began playing together.

Mary Garden as Mélisande

A Singer’s Notes 16: Pélleas et Mélisande

Why has Debussy’s Mélisande become a mezzo-soprano role? Maybe David Mamet has given me the answer to this. The playwright and bomb-thrower tells us in his new book “Theatre” that actors are in almost every case better off without a director, their own instincts leading the way. Mélisande has been sounding lower and lower over the decades (and Pélleas, too, for he always follow her wherever she goes). Here are the explanations we get: the part is low (surely Debussy realized this, yet did not change it, as he did for a baritone Pélleas), the orchestras are larger, the halls are larger, and maybe mezzos just want to do it. I have now in my imagination the idea that a century of cynicism has altered the instincts of the finest singers of the role, and also its finest hearers.

Unforeseen Unforeseen Circumstances: The Fall of Kevin Rudd

For a White House in need of a few moment’s levity, recent events in Australian politics might have provided an opportunity for a bit of fun. A meeting was planned between the Australian prime minister and President Obama after the G20 meeting in Canada next week. A supreme prank could have been devised whereby the president’s aides agreed not to mention Australia and somehow deprived their boss of any news thereof, surely not too difficult with more pressing business at hand. On the day of the meeting, the Oval Office door would have opened and instead of his good mate Kevin Rudd, in would walk a smiling redhead, Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard. Alas this prank will never come to pass. Obama thankfully seeks out his own news, and in any case after this week of extraordinary upheaval in Australian politics, the newly sworn in Prime Minister Gillard is far too busy to travel overseas.

Yuja Wang

Musical Life in San Francisco: Yuja Wang, Michael Tilson Thomas, and the SF Symphony play Poulenc, Stravinsky, Villa-Lobos, Ravel, and Stravinsky

Michael Tilson Thomas may sometimes over-program his orchestra and over-instruct his audiences, as locals will attest, but a cooperative sunset, a dazzling young Chinese soloist in a red dress, and a frothy line-up of arch and knowing pieces helped transform last Thursday evening’s SF Symphony concert into something of a summer gala.

Bass, Adam Fry

First Glimpse – A Glimmerglass Aperitif: Ives and Copland Teasers for the 2010 Season

Greeting guests were James Barton, a Trustee of the Board of Glimmerglass, and Michael MacLeod, General and Artistic Director. MacLeod has, in five years of his term, maintained an enviably high artistic level of production, while at the same time bringing a much needed marketing facelift. For example, program books, brochures, mailings, and the Website have undergone extensive and attractive redesign.

Ray Mungo and Ellen Synder, by Peter Simon

Vermont Hippies! Photographs by Peter Simon and Rebecca Lepkoff at the Vermont Center for Photography, Brattleboro, VT

Vermont Hippies: Photographs by Peter Simon and Rebecca Lepkoff, an exhibit of some forty photographs of southern Vermont will be on view at the Vermont Center for Photography, 49 Flat Street, Brattleboro, July 2 to August 1. Since the 1930s Vermont has been a magnet for urban émigrés searching for their own Edens. During the 1960s and 70s, veterans of the peace and civil rights movements settled into nontraditional households. Outwardly, they were distinguished from their Vermont neighbors by their progressive views, long hair, and unconventional clothing. The repercussions of this influx of counter-culture is still strongly felt in Vermont today, even thought the photographs make it look like so long ago. Suzanne Flynt, a VCP Board Member said, “This exhibition will make you smile, or cringe, or even laugh out loud.”

An Introduction to the 64th Edinburgh International Film Festival, 16-27 June 2010 Posted about Edinburgh – on taxi cabs, bus stops and cinemas (the usual routes of urban escape) – are classic film titles: La Terra Trema, Wild Strawberries, Dr. Zhivago, Easy Rider, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, Fitzcarraldo, Cinema Paradiso, Pulp Fiction and more, all past Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) premiers. Below the titles, the poster […]

Barangaroo Revisited: ‘And Here’s a City I Prepared Earlier…’

Barangaroo developer Lend Lease has released a revised plan for the site. The fact that it is an improvement on their previous proposal is like saying Burger King is better than McDonalds, perhaps true, but surely there are better hamburgers in the world. Sydney city councilor John McInerney is probably right to suggest that Lend Lease has pulled an inverted bait-and-switch of the ‘propose something outrageous and the less outrageous thing you planned all along will seem reasonable’ variety. Ironically, by improving some of the original design’s worst excesses — for example, the “exclamation mark” hotel has been reduced in height and does not project as far into the harbour — its fundamental flaws are more glaring than ever.