MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Philip Glass’s Akhnaten at the Met

The Metropolitan Opera’s nightly streams include some really special offerings this coming weekend, both of which are being made available to the public for the first time on the Met’s streaming platform — these are not available in the Met on Demand Video and Audio Catalogue. These are Satyagraha and Akhnaten, two of the operas from Philip Glass’s “Portrait Trilogy.” Both are in the productions brilliantly directed by Phelim McDermott. Karen Kamensek conducts the performance of Akhnaten given last fall on 23 November 2019.

Here’s my program essay for Akhnaten to help prepare for the stream on Saturday 20 June 2020:

On January 6, 1907, the entrance to a rock-cut tomb was uncovered in
the Valley of the Kings outside modern-day Luxor, Egypt. The mummy
safeguarded within may have been the preserved body of the pharaoh
Akhnaten (today more commonly known as Akhenaten). Rigorous DNA testing
conducted in 2010 was reported to have confirmed that identification, though
the matter remains hotly contested—like just about everything else associated
with this most controversial of ancient Egypt’s vast lineage of rulers.

UPDATE: The documentary by Michael Blackwood that I mention — A Composer’s Notes: Philip Glass and the Making of an Opera — is unfortunately no longer available on YouTube but has been released on DVD by Glass’s label Orange Mountain and can also be found on Amazon Prime here.

continue (starts on p. 10)

Click to access 112319-akhnaten.pdf

Filed under: Metropolitan Opera, Phelim McDermott, Philip Glass

Verdi’s Ernani at the Met

The current offering from the Met’s streaming program is Verdi’s opera Ernani, based on a Victor Hugo play and premiered in 1844.
Here’s the program note I wrote long ago for this 2012 production, which stars Angela Meade, Marcello Giordani, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Ferruccio Furlanetto, with Marco Armiliato conducting.

Filed under: Metropolitan Opera, Verdi

Tonight’s Met Stream: Parsifal

Here’s a link to Parsifal, the seasonally appropriate streaming from the Metropolitan Opera for the next 24 hours. This performance, directed by François Girard and with Danile Gatti conducting, was transmitted live on March 2, 2013.

A pdf of the program is here, with my program note starting on p. 2 of the insert.

Cast IN ORDER OF VOCAL APPEARANCE:
Gurnemanz: René Pape
Second Knight of the Grail: Ryan Speedo Green*
Second Sentry: Lauren McNeese
First Sentry: Jennifer Forni
First Knight of the Grail: Mark Schowalter
Kundry: Katarina Dalayman
Amfortas: Peter Mattei
Third Sentry: Andrew Stenson*
Fourth Sentry: Mario Chang*
Parsifal: Jonas Kaufmann
Titurel: Rúni Brattaberg
A Voice: Maria Zifchak
Klingsor: Evgeny Nikitin
Flower Maidens:
Kiera Duffy
Lei Xu*
Irene Roberts
Haeran Hong
Katherine Whyte
Heather Johnson
* Member of the Lindemann Young ArtistDevelopment Program

Filed under: Metropolitan Opera, Wagner

Wozzeck: Live in HD from the Met

The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, directed by William Kentridge, will be broadcast this afternoon.

Filed under: Alban Berg, Metropolitan Opera, music news

Philip Glass’s Ahknaten at the Met

Ahknaten — in my opinion, one of Philip Glass’s greatest works — opened last night in Phelim McDermott’s excellent production at the Met. I was honored to have the opportunity to write the program note (starts on p. 40B of the attached Playbill).

On January 6, 1907, the entrance to a rock-cut tomb was uncovered in
the Valley of the Kings outside modern-day Luxor, Egypt. The mummy
safeguarded within may have been the preserved body of the pharaoh
Akhnaten (today more commonly spelled Akhenaten) …

continue

Filed under: Metropolitan Opera, Phelim McDermott, Philip Glass, program notes

Dialogues des Carmélites at the Met

Tonight brings the revival of the Metropolitan Opera’s classic John Dexter production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a cast including Isabel Leonard as Blanche and Karita Mattila as the Prioress.

The production will be shown in theaters live in HD on May 12 as well. You can read my program notes here (pp. 40-47).

Filed under: Francis Poulenc, Metropolitan Opera

Bizet’s Pêcheurs de Perles at the Met

1600x685_perlesprod

Here’s the program essay I wrote for the Met’s production of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles directed by Penny Woolcock.

Filed under: Georges Bizet, Metropolitan Opera

Parsifal back at the Met

The Met’s revival of the François Girard production of Parsifal has started its run, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting.
My essay for the Met’s Playbill program is here.

Michael Cooper offers this report for the New York Times on >1,000 gallons of fake blood Girard calls for in his staging:

The blood creates striking tableaus — drenching the dress Evelyn Herlitzius wears as she sings the role of Kundry, a wild woman in the thrall of an evil sorcerer; and helping the audience visualize the spiritual quest taken by Parsifal (the tenor Klaus Florian Vogt). And it fits squarely into Mr. Girard’s conception of the opera.

 “We’re talking about life, Christ, Amfortas’s wound, sexuality, all of those things,” he said. “Blood became the connector.”

Filed under: essay, Metropolitan Opera, Wagner

Angel in America

1380x591_exterminatingangel

My essay for the Metropolitan Opera on Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel. The Met’s production opens next week and will be the North American premiere:

Not every composer has a knack for finding operatic potential in unlikely sources. But over the past two decades, Thomas Adès has followed his dramaturgical instinct to some of the most spectacular successes in contemporary opera…

continue reading

Filed under: Metropolitan Opera, new opera, Thomas Adès

Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin: A Sea Apart

1380x591_saariahoOn Friday, 1 December 2016, the Metropolitan Opera will premiere its new production of Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin. It will mark the first time since 1903 that the company will have presented an opera by a woman composer.

Here’s my essay for the Met’s Season book on this stunning creation by Kaija Saariaho:

Since its world premiere at the Salzburg Festival in 2000, L’Amour de Loin has earned a place among the most acclaimed stage works of the 21st century. The opera won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Musical Composition in 2003 and has been performed in Paris, London, Santa Fe, Helsinki, Aspen, Darmstadt, and elsewhere. Yet it took years before Kaija Saariaho became convinced that opera could be a viable medium for what she wanted to express as a composer.

continue reading

Filed under: essay, Metropolitan Opera, new music, Uncategorized

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