Friday, March 22, 2019

Music@Menlo 2019 Festival

Congratulations to Music@Menlo: in a season of 55 works, one was composed by a woman!

Considering that their season is arranged by decades, this is...unimaginative and shameful.

(By the way, your web site? There seems to be no way to find a list of the programs with all of the works on each, in chronological order. Stop being so clever and just give people a nice list. I'm lucky that I had a works list PDF so I could just count them, but I have no idea from it how the works are distributed by concert or who is playing them.)

Friday Photo

29 Avenue Rapp Detail
Paris, October, 2018

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ojai, 2019: Barbara Hannigan, Music Director

The final Ojai schedule was published today. I have a big problem: this is opposite the annual Northern California jujitsu camp that I try to attend. The program below is astonishing.

June 6-9, 2019
Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Barbara Hannigan, 2019 Music Director 

Thursday, June 6

1:00-4:30pm Ojai Presbyterian Church
Led by Ojai Talks Director Ara Guzelimian, these three insightful sessions explore various facets of music-making and ideas featuring Barbara Hannigan and members of EQ, an interview with Thomas W. Morris on his Ojai years, and with members of LUDWIG on their distinctive vision.

5:30-6:00pm Libbey Park Gazebo
JOHN LUTHER ADAMS/ The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies Part I

Steven Schick, percussion 

7:30-10:30pm Libbey Bowl
STRAVINSKY/ The Rake’s Progress  (fully-staged)                          
Equilibrium Artists: Aphrodite Patoulidou, soprano; Yannis Francois, bass; Elgan Llyr Thomas, tenor; Fleur Barron, mezzo-soprano; Antoin Herrera-Lopez Kessel, bass; James Way, tenor

Los Robles Master Chorale
Edo Frenkel, harpsichord
Linus Fellbom, director
Barbara Hannigan, conductor

Friday, June 7

8:00-9:00am Ojai Art Center
Donor Concert 

CLARA IANOTTA/ dead wasps in the jam-jar (iii)  US Premiere
TYSHAWN SOREY/ Everything Changes, Nothing Changes  West Coast Premiere

JACK Quartet           

11:00am-1:00pm Libbey Bowl 

Part I 11:00-11:45am
JOHN ZORN/ The Alchemist       
JOHN ZORN/ Hexentarot 
JOHN ZORN/ Ghosts 
JOHN ZORN/ The Aristos

JACK Quartet
Stephen Gosling, piano 

Part II 12:15-1:00pm
JOHN ZORN/ Ouroboros
JOHN ZORN/ The Unseen           
JOHN ZORN/ Necronomicon                                         
Jay Campbell, cello
Alexa Ciciretti, cello

2:00- 3:00pm  Ojai Presbyterian Church 
Zorn II (2016-2018) a film by Mathieu Amalric   

5:30-6:00pm Libbey Park Gazebo
JOHN LUTHER ADAMS/ The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies Part II
Steven Schick, percussion 

7:30-10:00pm  Libbey Bowl
Part I 7:30-8:30pm
DEBUSSY/ Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (from Images Book 1)
RAVEL/ Une barque sur l’ocean (from Miroirs)
MESSIAEN/ Un reflet dans le vent (from Preludes)                                                 
SCHOENBERG/ String Quartet No. 2  
Stephen Gosling, piano 
Barbara Hannigan, soprano
JACK Quartet

Part II 9:00 – 10:00pm 
DEBUSSY/ Syrinx                                                                        

SCHOENBERG/ Verklärte Nacht
VIVIER/ Lonely Child                                             
Aphrodite Patoulidou, soprano
Barbara Hannigan, conductor

10:15-11:30pm Ojai Art Center 
A late night of ballroom dancing with LUDWIG Ballroom Band and Bill Elliott, master of ceremonies
(donor event)          

Saturday, June 8

8:00-9:00am Zalk Theatre 
JAMES DILLON/ La Coupure      
Steven Schick, percussion
Ross Karre, William Brent, video and sound design

11:00am-1pm Libbey Bowl 

Part I 11:00-11:30am

Tribute to Oliver Knussen with music by Oliver Knussen
KNUSSEN/ Masks for flute with wind chimes
KNUSSEN/ Autumnal for violin and piano
KNUSSEN/ Sonja’s Lullaby
KNUSSEN/ Cantata
KNUSSEN/ Eccentric Melody for cello
KNUSSEN/ Ophelia’s Last Dance
KNUSSEN/ Study for Metamorphosis for solo bassoon
Stephen Gosling, piano

Jay Campbell, cello
Part II 12:00-1:00pm         
RACHMANINOFF/ The Isle of the Dead (arranged by Thomas Beijer)   
MARK-ANTHONY TURNAGE/ Twice Through the Heart                

Kate Howden, mezzo-soprano 

Edo Frenkel, conductor                             

2:00- 3:30pm  Ojai Presbyterian Church 

Music is Music – a film by Mathieu Amalric
C’est presque au bout du monde – a film by Mathieu Amalric
Taking Risks  - a documentary film by Accentus Music about Barbara Hannigan’s Equilibrium mentoring initiative  US Premiere

5:30-6:00pm Libbey Park Gazebo
JOHN LUTHER ADAMS/ The Mathematics of Resonant BodiePart III
Steven Schick, percussion 

7:30-10:15pm  Libbey Bowl 

Part I 7:30-8:00pm 
JOHN ZORN/ Jumalattaret                       

Barbara Hannigan, soprano
Stephen Gosling, piano 
Part II 8:15-9:00pm 
RITES OF PASSAGE: Folk songs from around the world 

Equilibrium Artists
Edo Frenkel, piano

Part II 9:30-10:15pm 
GRISEY/ Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil (Four Songs Crossing the Threshold)           
Barbara Hannigan, soprano
Steven Schick, conductor 
Sunday, June 9

8:00-9:00am Zalk Theatre 
CATHERINE LAMB/ String Quartet   US Premiere
JACK Quartet 

11:00am-1:15pm Libbey Bowl

Part I 11:00-11:45am

WALTON/ Façade: An Entertainment                                                              
Barbara Hannigan, speaker 

Part II 12:15-1:15pm         
TERRY RILEY/ In C           
Festival artists

4:30-6:30pm Libbey Bowl 
STRAVINSKY/ Pulcinella (complete)     
HAYDN/ Symphony No. 49 “La Passione”     
GERSHWIN/ Girl Crazy Suite (arranged by Bill Elliott)          
Kate Howden, mezzo-soprano 
James Way, tenor
Antoin Herrera-Lopez Kessel, bass
Barbara Hannigan, conductor and soprano

Monday, March 18, 2019


AND one more cast change that I missed:
March 11, 2019 Jean-François Lapointe will sing the Marquis de la Force in all upcoming performances of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, replacing Dwayne Croft. Canadian baritone Jean-François Lapointe makes his Met debut as Marquis de la Force, a role he has previously sung at Dutch National Opera. Recent performances include Hérode in Massenet’s Hérodiade and Rodrigo in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Marseilles Opera and Valentin in Gounod’s Faust and the title role of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. This season he sings Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff at Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Golaud in Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande at Opéra National du Rhin, and Thésée in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.  
The cast for Dialogues des Carmélites includes Isabel Leonard as Blanche de la Force, Adrianne Pieczonka as Mme. Lidoine, Erin Morley as Constance, Karen Cargill as Mère Marie, Karita Mattila as Mme. de Croissy, and David Portillo as the Chevalier de la Force. Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. Performances of Dialogues des Carmélites are May 3, 8, and 11, 2019. The final performance will broadcast live to cinemas worldwide as a part of The Met: Live in HD.
Weirdly, while I don't particularly like this opera, I will be attending the HD performance anyway. (Well, the repeat.) That's one hell of a cast, and the production is a legendary John Dexter production from the 1970s that I've always wanted to see.

Met Cast Changes

The first is from last week!
March 14, 2019 Gregory Kunde will sing Samson in the March 16, 19, and 23 performances of Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, replacing Aleksandrs Antonenko, who is ill.
And jumping in, or maybe I mean off, a performance that is already under way as I publish this:

March 18, 2019 
Iulia Isaev will sing the title role in tonight’s performance of Puccini’s Tosca, replacing Jennifer Rowley, who is ill. Romanian soprano Iulia Isaev makes her Met debut in tonight’s performance of Tosca. Her performances include Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Vienna State Opera and Opéra du Rhin in Alsace; Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte at Dutch National Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; and Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin at Greek National Opera. She has sung many roles with Bucharest National Opera including Alice in Verdi’s Falstaff, Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello. This season she reprises Alice in Bucharest. The cast for Tosca includes Joseph Calleja as Cavaradossi, Wolfgang Koch as Scarpia, and Philip Cokorinos as Sacristan. Carlo Rizzi conducts. Performances of Tosca run through April 6, 2019. 

Mueum Mondays

Detail from "The Martyrdom of St. Denis"
Henri Bellechose
Louvre, Paris
February, 2019

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Farewell to Lila

Almost eight years ago, I ran a blog post that included the news that we'd gotten a new dog, just a few months after the death of Molly B., our first. The post included this photo of the new dog:

Lila the Werewolf, July, 2011

I'm very sad to report that Lila died on March 13. She was probably around 12, and she had been having increasing mobility problems and associated pain. We had taken her to our favorite vet a few weeks ago to ask about her condition; she was still moving reasonably well and absent other health problems, the vet thought she might live a couple more years. But, she said, that thickening on her left knee might be bone cancer, so we should keep an eye on it. 

By March 11th, she was having a big problem getting up stairs. She was falling a couple of times a day, and she was clearly fearful about this and in more pain, so we took her back to the vet on Wednesday. Favorite vet and another vet agreed that yes, it was probable she had bone cancer (the thickening was worse), it would spread rapidly, and she was not a good candidate for amputation, given her age and the serious arthritis in her other leg and back. We don't want our pets to suffer, so we sadly and regretfully said goodbye to her.

She was not the sharpest knife in the canine drawer (we've had a very very smart dog and she was...a handful), but Lila was one of the sweetest. She liked and got along with almost all dogs and she turned out to be fine with cats. (We did a LOT of training to make sure she knew how to behave with them.) She was kind to people and always very nice to be around, as well. She lost her hearing a couple of years ago, and as her arthritis worsened, she no longer wagged her amazing tail, which could clear tables easily when she was younger.

We miss her very much and we're sad she's not barking at squirrels and begging for orange slices, one of her favorite people foods. Despite behind in some pain, she was sweet and cuddly right to the end.

Lila, March 11, 2019
I was eating a tangerine and she wanted a slice, which she got.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Museum Mondays

Panel of the Sedano Family Triptych
Gérard David
Louvre,  Paris
February, 2019

Friday, March 01, 2019

Organizational Differences

San Francisco Opera Timeline:

May 16, 2016: Official announcement that Nicola Luisotti is leaving at the end of 2017-18 season
October, 2017: His last performance as MD
July, 2018:        His contract expires
December, 2018: We have no idea who is replacing him
January, 2019:  A second season is announced with all guest conductors

San Francisco Symphony Timeline:

October 31, 2017: Official announcement that Michael Tilson Thomas is leaving at the end of the 2019-20 season
December 5, 2018: Official announcement of the next SFS music director
June, 2020: MTT's last performance as MD

Friday Photo

Doorway, 29 Avenue Rapp
Paris, October, 2018

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

And Because I Am a Bad Person....

Noted, on the web page about Damnation de Faust, with thoughts of the production of Les Troyens that I just saw in Paris:
High-flying tenor Bryan Hymel sings the doomed and besotted Faust, opposite dazzling mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča as the forsaken Marguerite 

Met Season, 2019-20: More of the Same

Gosh, not long ago a prominent opera commentator was calling SF's season boring. Here's what has dropped at the Met:
  • All-male-composer season
  • Twenty-four operas
  • One opera written after 1950 (Ahknaten)
  • Eight written after 1900 (Turandot, Tosca, Butterfly, Ahknaten, Katya Kabanova, Porgy & Bess, Rosenkavalier, Wozzeck)
  • Three Mozart (Flute, Nozze, Cosi)
  • Five Puccini (Turandot, Tosca, Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, Boheme)
  • Three Verdi (Traviata, Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra)
  • Two Massenet (Manon, Werther)
  • One each: Handel (Agrippina), Glass (Ahknaten), Rossini (Cenerentola), Berlioz (Damnation), Wagner (Hollander), Janacek (Katya Kabanova), Donizetti (Maria Stuarda), Gluck (Orfeo), Gershwin (Porgy), Tchaikowsky (Queen of Spades), R. Strauss (Rosenkavalier), Berg (Wozzeck)
  • In Italian: 14
  • In French: 3
  • In German: 4
  • In English: 2
  • In Czech: 1
  • In Russian: 1
I could certainly put together a season of ten operas I'm willing to see out of the 25 above, but it's  otherwise a pretty boring season: Simon Boccanegra, Agrippina, Ahknaten, Damnation, Katya, Orfeo, Porgy, Queen of Spades, Rosenkavalier, and Wozzeck.

UPDATED, since I managed to overlook La Boheme in my original counts and since I was off by one in my count of post-1900; Tosca just makes it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Music at Versailles

I was in France recently, and one of the highlights of my trip was that, on the basis of my review of three operas last October, I was invited to visit the Château de Versailles, the gigantic 17th c. palace located a few miles to the west of the city. Once there, I was shown around by Maxime Ohayon, director of development for Chateau de Versailles Spectacles, which is why there's a photo of me in the Hall of Mirrors with no one behind me.

I also interviewed Laurent Brunner, director of performances for Spectacles, about their musical program. Note that Spectacles handles all performances at the palace.

I wrote about music at Versailles for SFCV, and let me tell you, there are amazing things going on there. I was not able to see an opera in their beautiful little opera house, which seats only 700, but I did see a terrific concert of Baroque music with the Concerto Köln and a wonderful countertenor, Valer Sabadus.

Huge thanks to Maxim, Laurent, and Fanny Collard, (communications), for the invitation and their generosity.

You can see more of my photos in this Flickr photoset. I'm particularly fond of the photos I took under the stage of the opera house.

The Surveillance State in Ticket Sales

Or, why I'll never click a link in email from [redacted] again.

I received email over the weekend from a performing arts org about a program that they're presenting. Curious about what was actually on the program, I clicked through.

Today I got email reading as follows, and I'm pretty sure it's because of how they track and respond to click-throughs:
Hello, Lisa!
We're as excited as you are that [ensemble] is coming to [redacted]! Prices may increase due to demand, so the sooner you get your tickets, the better. 
If you have any trouble purchasing your tickets online, or need assistance in any way, you can contact the Ticket Office and we’ll be happy to help with your order.
Nope, nope, and nope. I may unsubscribe from [redacted]'s mailing list, or I may just never click a link again, but I do not want to feel as though I am being stalked by any performing arts org.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Museum Mondays

Hans Memling: Angel Holding an Olive Branch
Musée du Louvre, Paris
February, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Photo

Old pieces of the Sainte Chappelle, collected outside the chapel
Paris, February, 2019

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Duking It Out

News from the Met:
Bryan Hymel has withdrawn from upcoming performances as the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto, due to personal reasons. 
Francesco Demuro will sing the Duke in the March 6, 9, 15, and 20 performances; Matthew Polenzani will sing the performances on April 26, May 1, and 4; and Stephen Costello will sing the May 10 performance.
This is Hymel's third high-profile cancelation in the last few months: Les Huguenots and Les Troyen in Paris were the first two.

He's scheduled to open the San Francisco Opera season in September, and...well...I hope he's okay.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Museum Mondays

Birth of Gothic Sculpture 
Musée National du Moyen Age (Musée de Cluny)
National Museum of the Middle Ages
Paris, October, 2018

Sunday, February 10, 2019

"Job" Opening at Baltimore Sun

Well, here's a job that I'm not sure I could recommend: working a as freelance music critic for the Baltimore Sun.

Copied and pasted from the web page I linked to:
The Baltimore Sun seeks a freelance critic to review the broad array of classical performances in the Baltimore region. These can include, but are not limited to, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Shriver Hall Concert Series, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Baltimore Concert Opera and the Peabody Institute. We are keen to reflect the diversity of the classical community in the Baltimore area. 
Plan, in concert with an editor, a schedule of reviews that encompasses the variety within the Baltimore region’s classical scene Write with accuracy, knowledge, speed, flair and an accessible voiceMeet deadlinesEngage with and grow a network of followers on social media. Qualifications 
Three years of critical experience at a journalistic organizationExcellent writing skills Proven ability to build an audience via social mediaFamiliarity with and interest in Baltimore-area classical organizationsThe Baltimore Sun is committed to building a diverse correspondent network that reflects the people it covers and the audience it serves. Candidates are encouraged to highlight new perspectives they can bring to our team.

This is apparently a full-time music critic's job and requires three years of experience at a critic; however, you'll be paid as a freelancer, presumably by the article, and you'll get benefits just like a freelancer, which is to say, none. I have no idea how many freelancers there are who live close enough to Baltimore to be familiar with the scene - and who have either employment that takes care of health insurance or a spouse whose health insurance will keep them covered.

I'm also disturbed by that bit about "Proven ability to build an audience via social media." I mean, I suppose I could sorta demonstrate this, given my 1500 Twitter followers, but I'm not Alex Ross and neither is any other working critic: Alex has north of 100,000 followers, Anne Midgette of the Washington Post has 22,500, Anthony Tommasini of the NY Times has 7262, Zachary Woolfe, the most visible Times critic, has 9683, and James Jorden of Parterre Box has 3,197 (that was a shock; I figured he'd turn up in the 25,000 or higher range).

Honestly, I think that this part of the job is the job of the Sun's social media department. I certainly wouldn't make it a job requirement or expect any freelancer to have a huge following.

This is all related to something Tim Mangan, former critic of the Orange County Register, formerly in-house writer for the Pacific Sympony, wrote about last year: the hobbification of criticism, where it's something done on the side rather than a full-time profession, owing to the decline of print and on-line newspapers willing to pay for criticism. It is a real shame that the Sun is going down this path.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

San Francisco Opera: Casting Updates for Summer, 2019 Operas

Announced in my absence, updates to all three of the summer operas. Coincidentally, this dropped during the second intermission of Rusalka at the Opéra Bastille Thursday.

In Orlando, to absolute no one's surprise, the brilliant young countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen will sing Medoro, replacing the recently-indicted David Daniels.

In Rusalka, bass Kristinn Sigmundsson will sing Vodnik (Water Spirit), replacing the previously-announced Ferruccio Furlanetto, who has decided not to add the role to his repertory. (Applause for artists making such a decision with so much notice to the company for which they had planned to sing.)

In Carmen, Michelle Merrill will conduct the June 20, 2019 performance. Jame Gaffigan conducts all other performances.