MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Spoleto Festival USA: Relishing the Challenge

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Adrian Angelico (Marquise de Merteuil) and  Christian Miedl (Valmont); photo by Leigh Webber Photography

Part Two of my report on the 2017 edition of Spoleto Festival USA is now live on Musical America (subscription required):

CHARLESTON, SC—Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Spoleto Festival USA, but this year’s edition underscores what I regard as one of the festival’s most admirable traits: a refusal to rest on laurels. Spoleto took a notable dare in programming Luca Francesconi’s profoundly unsettling Quartett among this summer’s opera offerings.

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Filed under: Musical America, new music, review, Spoleto Festival USA

Spoleto Festival USA: Historical Contexts, Contemporary Impulses

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Vivaldi’s Farnace starring Anthony Roth Costanzo at 2017 Spoleto Festival (first-ever fully staged production in U.S.); photo by Leigh Webber Photography

Part One of my report on the 2017 edition of Spoleto Festival USA is now live on Musical America (subscription required):

CHARLESTON, SC—Spoleto Festival USA has a way of weaving the threads of history into fascinating, unexpected patterns. The 450-seat Dock Street Theater [below], where Vivaldi’s Farnace is now receiving a superlative production, sits on the site of a theater that initially opened in 1736—just nine years after Vivaldi introduced the work at the Teatro Sant’Angelo in his native Venice.

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Filed under: Musical America, review, Spoleto Festival USA

Dinner at Eight Fails to Sate the Appetite

My Musical America review of the new opera Dinner at Eight by composer William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell is now live (behind the MA paywall).

ST. PAUL, MN–Minnesota Opera has long had in place a vigorous program to promote the creation of contemporary works. Dinner at Eight is the latest of these and brings the tally of new operas that the company has produced to 45. For this project …

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Filed under: American opera, Minnesota Opera, Musical America, review, William Bolcom

Jaap van Zweden Takes the New York Philharmonic for a Test Drive

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Last week Jaap van Zweden conducted the New York Philharmonic in their first concert together since he was named Alan Gilbert’s successor as music director (starting in the 2018-19 season).

The program was a rich one: the Prelude to Wagner’s Lohengrin, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and the New York premiere of a brand-new viola concerto, Unearth, Release, by the highly talented young LA-based composer Julia Adolphe.

My review for Musical America has now been posted (behind the usual paywall):

NEW YORK—Four-and-a-half years after making his New York Philharmonic debut, Jaap van Zweden ascended the podium on Thursday for his first concert with the orchestra since being appointed …

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Filed under: Musical America, new music, New York Philharmonic, review, Tchaikovsky, Wagner

Don Pasquale and Andrea Chénier at San Francisco Opera

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In addition to Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber, I reviewed September’s other two productions at San Francisco Opera: a winning Don Pasquale (in which Larry Brownlee made his company debut) and a weak Andrea Chénier. The review is online at Musical America (subscription required):

SAN FRANCISCO—Was it merely coincidence or a cleverly tucked-away reference by way of programming? Regardless, San Francisco Opera opened its new season with a trio of operas in rotation … »Read

Filed under: Lawrence Brownlee, Musical America, review, San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber

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Pureum Jo as Dai Yu (c)Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

My review of the world premiere production of Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber at San Francisco Opera has now been posted on Musical America (behind paywall):

SAN FRANCISCO—By its very nature, opera is a medium well-suited to synthesizing widely varied traditions into fascinating new hybrids. Dream of the Red Chamber, which received its world premiere production by San Francisco Opera in September, seeks to adapt one of the most beloved works of Chinese literature to the musical and theatrical dimensions of Western opera.

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Filed under: Musical America, review, San Francisco Opera

Musical America‘s New Artist of the Month: Pablo Rus Broseta

Here’s my profile of the highly talented conductor Pablo Rus Broseta for Musical America. He’s the featured new Artist of the Month for October 2016. Congratulations, Pablo!

It’s a couple days before the season officially begins with an ambitious program, and Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta is monitoring the sound balance from the hall during the first full rehearsal. A lot is at stake. Following the glitz and good will of the SSO’s gala opening a few days ago, this concert represents a sort of manifesto of the orchestra’s programming philosophy under Music Director Ludovic Morlot.

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Filed under: conductors, Musical America, Seattle Symphony

Piatigorsky International Cello Festival

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Narek Hakhnazaryan in recital; photo by Daniel Anderson

Here’s my report for Musical America on the recently concluded second edition of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival held in Los Angeles (behind a paywall):

LOS ANGELES—“Of all the titles applied to me, I like ‘teacher’ best of all,” the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky once said. And of the many angles that might be used to describe the festival devoted to his instrument and named in his honor, the most salient is a passion for sharing knowledge — not just musical knowledge, but the wisdom gathered from a life devoted to performance. More than anything else, the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, which took place in Los Angeles between May 13 and 22, became an ode to omnivorous curiosity as the lifeblood of genuine musicianship.

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Filed under: cello, essay, Musical America, review

Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout at the White Light Festival

Mark Padmore (l) and Kristian Bezuidenhout (r)

Mark Padmore (l) and Kristian Bezuidenhout (r)

In my latest Musical America piece (behind a paywall), I review the second program in the remarkable Schubert Trilogy from last week at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival.

Tenor Mark Padmore and fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout teamed up for three evenings of Schubert lieder cycles (with a touch of Beethoven for the second program — Schwanengesang prefaced by An die ferne Geliebte, reviewed here). Here’s an excerpt:

In a brief introduction to his Tully Hall recital on Thursday, October 15, the tenor Mark Padmore remarked that the sense of longing encompassed by the German Sehnsucht — a word that defies easy translation — provided the link between the evening’s pair of cycles by Schubert and Beethoven, performed with keyboard partner Kristian Bezuidenhout.
[…]
The term recital sounds too coldly objective. Certainly it fails to do justice to the sense they achieved of a “through-composed” emotional journey, without the benefit of staging or design elements: Gesamtkunstwerk of music and poetry on an intimate scale….

Filed under: Beethoven, lieder, Musical America, review, Schubert

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