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Tag: Mozart

Opera Boom: Lots of opera in Boston, but how much was really good?

I need more than two hands to count the number of operas I’ve attended in Boston so far this year. Two productions by the Boston Lyric Opera, our leading company; nine (four fully staged) by our newest company, Odyssey Opera; a brilliant concert version by the BSO of Szymanowski’s disturbing and mesmerizing King Rogerall three of Monteverdi’s surviving operas presented by the Boston Early Music Festival, performed in repertory for possibly the very first time; a rarely produced Mozart masterpiece, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, in a solid and often eloquently sung concert version by Emmanuel Music; the world premiere of Crossing25-year-old Matthew Aucoin’s one-act opera about Whitman in the Civil War, presented by A.R.T.; and the first local production of Hulak-Artemovsky’s Cossack Beyond the Danube, the Ukrainian national opera, by Commonwealth Lyric Theatre (imaginatively staged and magnificently sung). Not to mention several smaller production I couldn’t actually get to—including an adventurous new work, Per Bloland’s Pedr Solis, by the heroic Guerrilla Opera, which I got to watch only on-line, and Boston Opera Collaborative’s Ned Rorem Our Town (music I’m not crazy about, but friends I trust liked the production).

A lot of opera! But how full is the cup?

A weekend of Monteverdi will conclude the Boston Early Music Festival and launch Aston Magna in Great Barrington

This spring has been teeming with a dizzying profusion of riches for the lover of early music in the Northeast. In April Carnegie Hall launched “Before Bach,” a month-long festival of Renaissance and Baroque music performed by the the most admired international groups and soloists in the field. Since this was an “on” year for The Boston Early Music Festival, an equally distinguished group of regulars and visitors just now packed about the same amount of musical activity into a week, supplemented by hosts of mostly outstanding comprimarii in its Fringe. This coming weekend BEMF’s western coda, consisting of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and his Orfeo, both performed in the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, will overlap with the first weekend of one of the oldest festivals of early music, Aston Magna.

A Singer’s Notes 107: Louis Lohraseb Conducts the Amadeus Orchestra at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, with Cicely Parnas, Cello; Gerard Schwarz and the Mozart Orchestra of New York

The first, the Amadeus Orchestra, conducted by the twenty-something Louis Lohraseb—a friend and erstwhile student of mine. These young musicians came to the hall from New Haven in a bus, played a rehearsal, and then an unforgettable concert thereafter. Featured was the excellent young cellist Cicely Parnas in the Haydn Concerto no. 1, which she played with great energy and style, the orchestral accompaniment pristine.

Andris Nelson conducts the BSO at Tanglewood. Photo Hilary Scott. Art

Two Weekends in the Country: The BSO and the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, the new Clark, Mass MoCA, and Boston Midsummer Opera’s Bartered Bride

As life in the city slows down, life in the country west of Boston ratchets up. I went out to the Berkshires to catch as much as I could of Tanglewood’s fiftieth Festival of Contemporary Music, this year curated by Boston composers and longtime Tanglewood faculty members John Harbison (a composition fellow in 1959) and Michael Gandolfi (a fellow in 1986).

A Singer’s Notes 84: Time yaps at the heels of comedy. Tragedy marches inexorably on.

Time yaps at the heels of comedy. Tragedy marches inexorably on. In comedy the present turns immediately to the past, this is why the pace must be fast. Private Lives tries to talk about serious things rapidly. It does not stop and consider. The past is a repetition of the future, not the other way around. This is why the characters circle endlessly. You might call it the rhythm of life, or in a darker comedy, the dance of death. There is plenty of life left in Private Lives. Its relentless wit continues to charm. The couple who fight best seem to love best. Only fine actors can repeat themselves.  Shakespeare and Company’s production of Noel Coward’s play had the requisite energy. David Joseph, in particular, seemed inexhaustible, time yapping at his heels. Dana Harrison also commanded the speed and flavor of imperious time, sometimes by trying to slow it ever so slightly.

A Singer’s Notes 71: Callas teaches and Branagh directs…

The great pages in Terrence McNally’s Masterclass are those in which music takes stage. I know of no-one else who writes better about the act of music-making than Mr. McNally. Since the first student singer in the action sings very little, the words the playwright gives to Maria Callas as her teacher expand in our imagination into an imagined and sublime kind of singing, what we want it to be, what it ought to be. And most beautifully, he says that even the greenest student singer is connected to the long line of the piece, through herself, through her teacher, through the score, to the composer. The play is an in-house agon about being a singer. It is something the audience overhears.