MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Coming Up at Frankfurt Oper: Lost Highway

Eager to cover the new production of Olga Neuwirth’s Lost Highway, which Yuval Sharon will direct at Frankfurt Oper in September.

Neuwirth remarks: The vibrant, unstable area between standstill and movement, between the living and the dead and between form and dissolution of form, may put us into a terrifying and, at the same time, fascinating vortex between dream and reality. In the end, everything remains a chronicle of violence, love, loss and pain. Perhaps it is exactly this end point which gives us the idea of a different script of life.

Filed under: Frankfurt Oper, Yuval Sharon

Back to Auld Reekie

IMG_1483 (1).jpg

Filed under: photography

RIP George Walker (1922-2018)

I’m devastated by news of the death of George Walker. It was just over a year ago that I had the opportunity to interview him at length for a magazine profile. I know he was eagerly looking forward to the live public premiere of his Sinfonia No. 5 (“Visions”) next April with the Seattle Symphony — his reaction to the 2015 church massacre in Charleston.

George Walker’s music remains woefully neglected and underrepresented. As the music world looks back over his remarkable legacy — as a composer and a pianist, whose career was stymied by systemic racism — I hope this situation finally begins to change for the better.

Filed under: George Walker, music news

Live from Lucerne Festival: All-Ravel Concert

Tonight’s edition of Live from Lucerne Festival is an all-Ravel concert: Riccardo Chailly conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestra starting at 7.30pm Lucerne time.

Filed under: Lucerne Festival

Stockhausen at 90

Filed under: Karlheinz Stockhausen

Leonard Bernstein Countdown

It’s less than a week now until the official 100th birthday. Here’s one of my contributions to the celebration, in the form of my story for Strings magazine (August 2018 issue), which takes a look at Leonard Bernstein from a somewhat different angle.

Composer. Conductor. Educator. Humanitarian. Even the official website attempts to cope with its namesake’s oversize legacy by parceling it into categories. The music world has yet again been attempting to reassess it all throughout this centennial year—when the absence of “the next Leonard Bernstein” seems to be felt with an especially intense pang….

August 2018-ST280 (story on pp. 16-22)

Filed under: Bernstein, Strings

The 2018 Summer Festival in Lucerne

Tonight the 2018 edition of Lucerne’s Summer Festival opens with a program of Stravinsky and Mozart. Riccardo Chailly conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestral, with Lang Lang as the soloist in Mozart’s C minor Concerto.

The concert starts at 6:30 pm (Lucerne time), and its second half — Firebird — will be broadcast live on the Lucerne Festival Facebook page and YouTube channel. WQXR will also stream the second half on its webpage.

Additionally, Radio SRF2 Kultur will broadcast the entire concert (with a time delay, starting at 7:30 pm Lucerne time).


Filed under: Lucerne Festival

Taking Pictures


Filed under: photography

Refugees and Opera

Joshua Barone recently reported for the New York Times on a new production at Bavarian Staatsoper for part of its youth program that was “written for refugees, children of immigrants and born-and-raised Bavarians.”
The piece draws on Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, among other sources. “Theater about the refugee crisis has proliferated in Germany since migration into the country reached its peak in 2016,” writes Barone. “But rarely has the hot-button issue … entered the realm of opera, much less children’s opera.”

Actually, the Zuflucht Kultur Association has been engaging with these issues for several years, offering productions of Mozart’s Zaide, Così, and Idomeneo (which traveled to the Lucerne Festival last summer), Carmen, Orfeo, and, most recently, Don Carlos.

Here’s a radio interview (in German) with mezzo Cornelia Lanz, one of the association’s producer-performers, on their Orfeo production.

Filed under: directors, music news, opera

Porgy and Bess in Seattle

An unforgiving work overload is keeping me from covering Seattle Opera’s just-opened Francesca Zambello production of Porgy and Bess, an opera I love. I did cover it the last time the company presented Gershwin’s work, in 2011, in a version directed by Chris Alexander — well before I had launched this blog, so I hope you will forgive me for posting that
piece here. Two of the singers cast in 2011 are back onstage for the current production: Mary Elizabeth Williams and Jermaine Smith):

Seattle’s version admirably digs beneath the surface of this elusive classic of American identity. It avoids sentimentalizing Porgy into a saint and brings more human focus to characters who can often become caricatures. But some pivotal moments are under-emphasized….


Filed under: George Gershwin, review, Seattle Opera

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