Elektra

Elektra

Friday, October 19, 2018

Paris Les Huguenots Media Round-Up

I'm finding a fair number of reviews of this opera and I'm behind in elaborating on my multi-opera Letter from Paris, so!

Reviews:

Previews:


Friday Photo


Bayreische Staatsoper
Munich, Germany
August, 2015

You knew I'd have one of these, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Will He or Won't He?

I'm about ready to start a betting pool on whether tenor Bryan Hymel will sing any of his upcoming engagements. His cancelation history when I'm anywhere near by isn't good:
  • He sang half his scheduled performances of Les Troyens in San Francisco
  • He withdrew from the Santa Fe Opera Rigoletto that was scheduled immediately following Les Troyens. (He was signed up to rehearse the Duke while singing Enée - madness.)
  • He withdrew from the Paris Les Huguenots ten days before opening.
A friend who saw him earlier this year in I vespri siciliani said he was wonderful until he cracked a note, and after that, he struggled.

Figuring out what the issues are is not really possible unless you're one of Hymel's intimates (his teacher, his coach, his manager, his family). Is it nerves? Vocal problems? Voice changing, as voices do? Plain old audience members have no way to know.

My personal interest in this is a plan to attend Les Troyens in February, in Paris. I'm very curious who will sing the male lead.

Monday, October 15, 2018

ARGH.

I have no idea how that post from 2016 (or maybe 2017 - I believe I published it very very late) got pushed to the top of the blog. It was not deliberate.

Museum Mondays


Ceiling and Chandelier
Villa Stuck, Munich
August, 2015

Friday, October 12, 2018

A 70-Year Old, an 80-Year-Old, a Centenarian, and a 142-Year-Old Walk Into a Concert Hall.




And it doesn't matter that two of them are dead: these four are the face of new-ish music at San Francisco Symphony, based on the various documents comprising the 2016-17 season announcement.

It is really a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty season, and I do not say that because of the absence of P***** G**** from the schedule.

Let's start with the depressing half-empty part; a second post will cover the good stuff.
  • No works composed by women are being performed this season.
  • No works by African American composers are being performed this season.
  • Two works by composers of color are being performed; both are from China, one is being played by a visiting orchestra from China.
  • Works by seven (7) living composers are being performed this year. They are John (Coolidge) Adams, Steve Reich, Bright Sheng, Robin Holloway, Andrew Norman, Qigang Chen, and M. Tilson Thomas.
Once again, John Adams, Lou Harrison, and Charles Ives are the American Mavericks, joined this year by Steve Reich, who turns 80. Of the works being performed, the most important two are the local premiere of JCA's The Gospel According to the Other Mary, which sounds like a masterpiece based on the audio I have heard, and the composer's second violin concerto, Scheherazade.2. Looks like only one Reich work has been announced; one program is entirely TBA.

There are three SFS co-commissions, the Overture to the new opera Dream of the Red Chamber, by Bright Sheng (co-commission with SF Opera - I'm totally confused by this); Europa and the Bull, by Robin Holloway; and Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind by M. Tilson Thomas.

The remaining works by living composers are Play, by Andrew Norman; Angegram, by MTT (it's a charming, and slight, curtain raiser);  Enchantments oubliés, by Qigang Chen, played by the China Phil; 

We don't, of course, know what will turn up on the SoundBox schedule, and it's common not to announce the chamber music series until closer to the fall. Only seven living composers are represented of the many whose orchestral works will be performed this season. Of them, Adams and Reich are now in the Grand Old Man category, and one is the music director of the orchestra.

So there you have it: a season almost entirely made up of music by dead white men. People, it is 2015. It is time for this orchestra to do a better job of performing music by women and people of color. It is time to do a better job of performing music by the rarely-heard rather than recycling Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikowsky, Mozart, Dvorak, Bach, and the rest of the top twenty-five or fifty composers. See Alex Ross's recent article and blog post on rarely-heard symphonists. Why not, for crying out loud? 

You could consider making an explicit commitment to performing works by women, African Americans, and other composers of color, which would give you the following incomplete list of composers to choose from:
Thea Musgrave, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Johanna Beyer, Kaija Saariaho, Joan Tower, Judith Weir, Nicola LeFanu, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Roxana Panufnik, Amy Beach, Elizabeth Maconchy, Unsuk Chin, Chen Yi, Sheila Silver, Chinnary Ung, Olly Wilson, Florence Price, George Walker, Ulysses Kay, William Grant Still, Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, Julius Eastman, Pamela Z, Ken Ueno, Lily Boulanger, Ethel Smyth, Cecile Chaminade, Vivian Fine, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Galina Ustvolskaya, Vítězslava Kaprálová, any of the hundreds of composers listed here and the hundreds of composers I've missed.
As usual, Los Angeles beats the heck out of SF in the new music category.

(Drafted the week of the season announcement, but I have had other priorities recently. Glass-half-full post to follow this week.)

Friday Photo


View into the Munich Residenz
Munich, Germany
August, 2015

Monday, October 08, 2018

Depressing Thought of the Day

On the steps of the Palais Garnier tonight, after seeing Berenice for the second time, I was thinking about what a terrific conductor Philippe Jordan is, on the basis of his Tristan and Berenice. There is no way he would give up a job like the one he has for San Francisco Symphony or San Francisco Opera, especially not the Opera. He is music director of the Opera National de Paris, with two opera houses that can simultaneously perform a total of four operas. This anniversary year for opera in Paris is special - that's how you get the budget to stage Les Huguenot and Les Troyens in the same season - but still. It is a great job.

Moreover, if you were a European working in Europe, would you want to work in the US just now, in a location that is a nine-hour flight from London, more from central Europe, given the political situation and our authoritarian-leaning president? I bet that you would not, unless you were already employed in the US and sticking around seemed better than looking for a job in Europe. So at the moment, I am betting on Americans for both of the gigs, not that I have any idea who those Americans might be.

Museum Mondays


Exterior Detail
Villa Stück, Munich
August, 2015

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Opera Tattling: Paris Opera Tristan and Berenice

The audience during Michael Jarrell's new opera, Berenice, was perfectly behaved in my vicinity.

For Tristan, it was a different matter. Some rustling of programs and coughing during the prelude, then, much worse:
  • The man in the row ahead of me and just to my right who silence, but did not turn off, his very large phone and who checked the time at least once during each act. Yes, it's a long opera, but you knew that when you bought the ticket, right? Get a watch if you really need to check the time during the performance.
  • The man two or three rows up and to my left who took photographs during the performance, at least one per act. Dude, ask the press office if you have an official use; if not, check the internet. But don't take photos during the performance. 
Both were well-dressed middle-aged men who should have known better.

Cast Changes: Santa Fe Opera, 2019

Received from SFeO:
Updates to the 2019 Season were also announced. Corinne Winters will sing the role of Leïla in The Pearl Fishers, replacing Lisette Oropesa, who will make her La Scala debut in the summer of 2019. Tracy Dahl will sing the role of Despina in Così fan tutte, replacing Rebecca Evans who has withdrawn for personal reasons. Maxine Braham (Choreographer/SFO debut) and Duane Schuler (Lighting Director) join the creative team of Jenůfa.
 In addition, the company had record-breaking ticket sales and fundraising this year.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Friday Photo


Kodak Signs
Munich, Germany
August 2015

You don't see these often in the US!

Monday, October 01, 2018