Monday, February 09, 2009

But Seriously...

...I know I ribbed him, but Tommasini is in fact giving thoughtful answers to good questions. He waves the banner for unusual and neglected operas, talks about the problems inherent in reviewing the first performance in an opera's run, discusses why a reviewer has to be aware of the humans on stage.

9 comments:

Chester said...

"I don't think that Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony is more profound than the Beatles's song "Eleanor Rigby."

I'm glad I missed that A&L article!

Empiricus said...

Why not Elanor Rigby?

calimac said...

I've suffered through Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, and Tommasini is right. There's no more profundity in that bloated corpse than the Beatles regularly packed into two or three minutes.

Elaine Fine said...

I too am quite surprised at the quality and content of Tommasini's answers. We all know that it is much easier to talk about writing reviews than it is to actually write them, but he seems like a totally charming man in this kind of a forum.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yep. And I've heard he is a really excellent musician.

I wish the photo were better. He looks dour and doesn't come across that way at all in print.

I'm truly astonished, though I don't know why I should be, by the polemic-in-the-form-of-a-question from the symphony guy.

Henry Holland said...

Yeah, not a great photo of him, this one is better despite the fact that he looks totally stoned, but his partner is kinda cute, they make a nice couple. *Sigh* Stupid Valentine's Day....

I can't find it, but AT did a video thing on the New York Times site where he sat at the piano explaining the 12-tone system. It was well done and not at all academic or obscure. He may be a joke on certain websites for his fetishizing of the male body, and he might not be quite as knowledgeable about opera as some, but after the horror of Bernard Holland's final years, it's a relief to read a critic at the NYT who doesn't seem to be losing his mind.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, that is a nice photo! Yes, I think they must be a cute pair.

I saw at least part of the video thing he did, and some blogger or another, maybe even me, probably linked to it. Try Google blog search?

You are right about the improvement over Holland. What I find surprising is that Tommasini is a long-term opera fan and clearly knowledgable but still soft-pedals obvious failings. I mean, you read his Lucia review, right??

Tommasini's so comfortable in the Q&A format that I really want him to start blogging. He'd be a natural. Of course, he'd have to lock comments permanently or be totally spammed every time he says "strapping" in a review.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, I found the 12-tone video for you: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2007/10/12/arts/1194817121260/12-tone-music.html?scp=2&sq=tommasini&st=cse

Henry Holland said...

Thanks! Yikes, I spent a good ten minutes on the NYT site and Googling trying to find it.

Sure, AT goes a little light on people, and while I will always be a Martin Bernheimer fan, that's not such a bad thing.