MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

The Dying Light

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Filed under: photography

Hopscotching

Although I didn’t have a chance  in Los Angeles to experience the Hopscotch opera phenomenon firsthand, I’m trying to catch up vicariously. My colleague Alex Ross has written extensively and enthusiastically about this mobile opera, even calling it “a high-tech work of Wagnerian scale.”

Ross explains that the title “was taken from Julio Cortázar’s 1963 magical-realist novel, which invites the reader to navigate the text in nonlinear fashion.” As for its impact, he declares that Hopscotch “triumphantly escapes the genteel, fenced-off zone where opera is supposed to reside.”

At The Wall Street Journal, Heidi Waleson writes that “the experience is atmospheric rather than narrative, with each chapter a surprise and a plunge into the emotional character of the moment.”

Hopscotch‘s director Yuval Sharon, founder of the experimental opera group The Industry, “has broken the fourth wall with a vengeance, not merely freeing opera from the opera house, but making its heightened expression the sound of real, everyday and inner life,” Waleson concludes.

Mark Swed’s Los Angeles Times review, on the other hand, is more hesitant about what he views as a “hyped” production: “‘Mobile opera’ and ‘city pieces’ have been around for a while,” he reminds us. “…Operas with multiple composers and librettists, like Hopscotch, go back to the Baroque.”

“The actual experience of the opera is to be lost,” notes Swed. And indeed the complexity of the jigsaw puzzle fragments that are part of the whole story as well as “the engineering feat of making it all work are all part of the cool factor that has given the opera international attention. I, however, found nothing cool about riding around in a limousine through economically disadvantaged parts of L.A. These appallingly tacky vehicles are designed to keep you far removed from your environment.”

Swed’s proposed solution for the “self-involved, isn’t-this-cool response” Hopscotch has been eliciting?

I never thought I’d say this, but the first epic L.A. opera requires not artificial immersive reality but virtual reality. Let the Industry assemble all the episodes as transmitted to the Hub, all the animations and all the expendable material together online (or on an app or disc), and Hopscotch will surely and with irresistible suitability become the first exceptional hyperopera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: directors, new music, opera companies

Street Symphony’s Messiah Project

Street Symphony, the LA-based ensemble of musicians who bring their art to prisons, Skid Row, and other marginalized groups, has posted this story of homeless combat veteran Don Garza and how he was affected by Handel’s music (hat tip: Ayana Haviv):

Filed under: Handel, music news

A Noble Attempt: Thomas Dausgaard Leads the Seattle Symphony in Mahler’s Tenth

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Thomas Dausgaard
© Ulla-Carin Eckblom

Can we really claim that there is a Mahler Ten? Opinions remain sharply divided among the most fervent Mahlerians. Some refuse to consider the proposition of performing even the first movement of the composer’s final, unfinished symphony – let alone any of the various attempts to construct a performable whole using the extensive sketches Mahler left behind at his death in 1911.

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Filed under: conductors, Mahler, review, Seattle Symphony

“Dinner’s Ready!”

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Filed under: photography

Brentano Lieder

Part of this week’s excellent program by San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Filed under: San Francisco Symphony, Schumann, Strauss

The Miró Quartet’s “Transcendent” Project

miro1.jpgTo celebrate its 20th anniversary year, the Miró Quartet has been pursuing some characteristically innovative and ambitious projects. This week the group announced the winner of its Transcendence Education Project: the Fox Chapel Area High School Orchestra in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Entrants had been invited to submit a 30-second video on the topic of ‘musical transcendence’ with prizes including a free masterclass and other chances to interact with the Miró Quartet.

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Filed under: chamber music, Schubert, Strad

Elder Wagner

 

Bliss: Sir Mark Elder, who just conducted the opening of San Francisco Opera’s Meistersinger.

Filed under: conductors, San Francisco Opera, Wagner

Music for a While: Beguiled by Beethoven and John Luther Adams in Los Angeles

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In the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, music presenters struggled to readjust programmes so that they could provide an appropriately solemn response. For some this seemed the only justification to enjoy music at all in the face of nightmarish reality.

But the act of making music with care and conviction is itself life-affirming and humanity-empowering, as Leonard Bernstein knew when he famously declared: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before”.

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Filed under: Beethoven, John Luther Adams, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ludovic Morlot, review

Made in LA

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Tonight the Los Angeles Master Chorale performs a program celebrating the hotbed of creativity this amazing and diverse city inspires. Here’s my essay for the program:

A couple of months ago, Angelenos were treated to a concert by a chamber ensemble known as The Golden Bridge (whose singers include some members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale). Led by Suzi Digby, Lady Eatwell OBE, and true to its name, the ensemble links two golden ages of choral music: Tudor England and the remarkable choral creativity now flourishing in California — particularly in the Los Angeles region.

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Filed under: choral music, commissions, Los Angeles Opera, new music

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