June 30, 2016 • 8:31 am Comments Off on Let There Be Light
June 28, 2016 • 10:53 am Comments Off on SF Opera Carmen: Bieito’s U.S. Debut as Gockley’s Swansong
My review of Calixto Bieito’s Carmen — his official U.S. opera debut, in a production revived at San Francisco Opera — has now been posted on Musical America (behind paywall):
SAN FRANCISCO—An icon of iconoclasm, Calixto Bieito has been alternately demonized and deified for the challenges his stagings pose to business as usual. Kudos to San Francisco Opera, in this final hurrah from outgoing general director David Gockley, for becoming the first North American company to give the Catalan director’s work a platform. “Carmen,” which both opened and will close SFO’s 2016 summer season (with a free “opera at the ballpark” live simulcast on July 2), marks Bieito’s absurdly belated U.S. opera debut — a dozen years after his Abduction From the Seraglio at the Komische Oper Berlin sparked outrage and international headlines.
June 25, 2016 • 4:15 pm Comments Off on Tuning Up!
My preview of Seattle Symphony’s upcoming festival of American music, from Charles Ives to Julia Wolfe and John Luther Adams:
“There are as many sides to American music as there are to the American people,” Leonard Bernstein remarked in one of his popular Young People’s Concerts devoted to the topic “What Is American Music?”
“Maybe that’s the main quality of all — our many-sidedness. Think of all the races and personalities from all over the globe that make up our country. We’ve taken it all in,” he said.
Bernstein broadcast that message almost six decades ago in 1958. Since then the musical landscape has become vastly more diverse, many-sided and multi-layered. The old-fashioned image of the melting pot seems quaint compared to the dazzling, complex intersections and border crossings that make today’s musical scene so vibrant and self-aware.
June 22, 2016 • 10:38 am Comments Off on Brahms 1
This is going to be a good concert:
June 20, 2016 • 10:15 am Comments Off on Verdi at His Most Ambitious
My essay for San Francisco Opera’s program: Don Carlo, part of the final trio of operas in David Gockley’s farewell season:
“Don Carlos has really thrilled him. I think that this drama, instinct as it is with real passion, is just what he needs,” reported Léon Escudier, Verdi’s French publisher, after a trip to visit the composer in 1865.
He was sounding Verdi out on some possible topics for a fresh commission from the Paris Opéra. Another idea that aroused Verdi’s interest was King Lear—a project he had long hoped to realize—but Verdi opted for Don Carlos, a historical tragedy by Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805), as more suitable for treatment in the French grand opera style.
June 20, 2016 • 7:56 am Comments Off on A Song of Summer
June 18, 2016 • 9:01 am Comments Off on Tyshawn Sorey
One of my favorite recent musical discoveries:
June 15, 2016 • 11:34 am Comments Off on John Adams’s New Opera
It’s now official: the newest opera from John Adams, Girls of the Golden West, which during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, with a libretto by Peter Sellars, will be premiered in the fall of 2017 at San Francisco Opera. SFO has co-commissioned the work with Dallas Opera, Dutch National Opera, and Teatro La Fenice.
Here’s the company’s press release:
SAN FRANCISCO (June 14, 2016) — San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company will present the world premiere commission of Girls of the Golden West, a new opera set during the 1850s California Gold Rush, by the internationally-renowned team of composer John Adams and director/librettist Peter Sellars. Presented at the War Memorial Opera House for seven performances opening November 2017, San Francisco Opera will announce casting, conductor, design team and ticket information in January 2017 as part of the Company’s 2017–18 repertory season.
June 13, 2016 • 7:31 am Comments Off on Fascinating Rhythms: New Music from Anna Clyne and Classics by Gershwin and Beethoven Make a Stimulating Mix at the Seattle Symphony
Not even half over, 2016 has been an unusually painful year, not least for the losses we’ve sustained in the arts. Yet the Seattle Symphony’s final program of the subscription season conveyed abundant reason for optimism, at least as far as the creative spirit goes.
June 11, 2016 • 12:01 am Comments Off on Courageous Women, Transcendent Visions
soprano Julia Bullock
This year’s Ojai at Berkeley festival focuses on the artistry and impact of powerful, visionary women—not only as creators and performers but as the subjects of the artworks themselves.