From June, 2011

For Dawn Upshaw, ‘Winds of Destiny’ lead to Ojai

For Dawn Upshaw, ‘Winds of Destiny’ lead to Ojai. Peter Sellars directed Dawn Upshaw for a performance of George Crumb’s song cycle “Winds of Destiny” in Los Angeles – eight songs performed by soprano, amplified piano, and four percussionists who play 102 instruments in all.  The idea of staging art song is not new, but Upshaw’s compelling presentation at the 2011 Ojai Festival is operatic (classical singing, underlying plot, small ensemble, costuming) and far from the the 19th century salon performances of old…perhaps even a new genre that will attract new audiences.    Here’s an excerpt of the article that gives a little insight into the performance: “The…

2011 Juilliard Commencement Address by John Adams

“The arts, however, are difficult. They are mind-bendingly and refreshingly difficult. You can’t learn the role of Hamlet (no less write it), you can’t play the fugue in the Hammerklavier Sonata (no less compose it) and you can’t hope to move effortlessly through one of Twyla Tharp’s ballets without submitting yourself to something that’s profoundly difficult, that demands sustained concentration and unyielding devotion. Artists are people who’ve learned how to surrender themselves to a higher purpose, to something better than their miserable little egos. They’ve been willing to put their self-esteem in a Cuisinart and let it be chopped and…

Another Review of Émilie and Video

This weekend I travelled to Charleston, SC to see all three operas offered by the Spoleto Festival USA – Émilie (Saariaho), The Magic Flute (Mozart) and The Medium (Menotti).  Kaija Saariaho’s monodrama Émilie had been criticized for it’s lack of dramatic impetus, but I found the interior drama of Émilie du Châtelet to be extremely compelling, expressive yet obviously contrived with the compositional convention of serialism – at least in part.  Another benefit of my trip to Spoleto:  an introduction to the work of playwright Martin McDonagh whose play, The Cripple of Inishmaan, was produced there this summer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBxb4kyc6Gw  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/arts/music/emilie-by-kaija-saariaho-at-spoleto-festival-usa.html# http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/druid-theatre-uncovers-the-genius-of-martin-mcdonaghs-cripple-of-inishmaan/Content?oid=3387348

June 2011 Opera News: Review of Atlanta Opera’s Porgy and Bess

Porgy and Bess ATLANTA Atlanta Opera      2/26/11 George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is a period piece that provides a glimpse of life on Catfish Row — a former Charlestown mansion converted to a black tenement house — and a goldmine of early-twentieth-century music that remains as lyric and operatic as ever. Atlanta Opera presented Porgy and Bess in 2005. On February 26, the company again showcased its enviable Porgy opera chorus, directed by Walter Huff, which performed Gershwin’s opera at the Opéra Comique and elsewhere in Europe during the summer of 2008. Truly the omnipresent chorus was spontaneous in…

Jimmy Paulk’s Review of the Spoleto Festival: Filling Atlanta’s Gaps…

When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution down-sized and released several of its arts critics a few years ago,  the critics created their own online forum in which to publish their assessments of Atlanta arts events.  I regularly read http://www.ArtsCriticATL.com because I enjoy Pierre Ruhe’s reports of classical music in our southern city.  Below I’ve pasted a link to Jimmy Paulk’s review of the opera offerings  – from the Atlanta Arts Critic site – at the 2011 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC.    I’ll be heading to Charleston this weekend to see for myself.  http://www.artscriticatl.com/2011/06/spoleto-festival-review-u-s-premiere-of-kaija-saariahos-emilie-a-woman-of-science-and-love/