MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Olga Neuwirth’s Lost Highway at Oper Frankfurt

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left to right: Steffen Ahrens (Ensemble Modern), Elizabeth Reiter (Alice), and John Brancy (Pete); photo (c) Monika Rittershaus

My review of Olga Neuwirth’s extraordinary video-opera, directed by Yuval Sharon at Oper Frankfurt, is now online at Musical America:

FRANKFURT, Germany—Questions give rise to more and more questions in Lost Highway, including one that kept recurring to me as I became increasingly entangled in the performance: Why is Olga Neuwirth still so woefully underrepresented in America’s new music scene? The evening I spent with Oper Frankfurt’s production (September 19) proved to be so engrossing, so provocative in all the right ways, that the neglect of her fascinating body of work seems all the more outrageous—and our loss all the more to be pitied, until it’s remedied.

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Filed under: Musical America, new opera, Olga Neuwirth, Oper Frankfurt, review, Yuval Sharon

Opera Omaha’s Inaugural ONE Festival Proves Up to Its Ambitions

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Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, directed by James Darrah, with John Moore, Talise Trevigne, Michael Slattery, Cree Carrico, Abigail Nims, Andrew Harris, and Sam Shapiro; photo (c) Emily Hardman

My coverage of the inaugural ONE Festival at Opera Omaha is now live on Musical America. (I’m afraid there’s a paywall.)

I devoted Part 1 to the world premiere of Proving Up, the brilliant new opera by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek in James Darrah’s staging:

Part 1

Part 2

Filed under: American opera, directors, Musical America, new opera, Opea Omaha, review

An Unfinished “Phantom Opera” Is Completed with Love

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Pauline Oliveros; photo by Allan J. Cronin

Remembering the great Pauline Oliveros, one year after her death: my New York Times story on The Nubian Word for Flowers:

Pauline Oliveros, the beloved composer who died last November, spent her long career experimenting — with improvisation, with technologically enhanced sound design and with “deep listening,” her term for a kind of heightened, mindful perception of sound.

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Filed under: new opera, New York Times

Angel in America

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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…

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Filed under: Metropolitan Opera, new opera, Thomas Adès

Timeless Machiavelli, Timely Opera: A World Premiere From Mohammed Fairouz

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photo © Marco Borggreve

My review of the new opera by Mohammed Fairouz has now been posted on Vanguard Seattle:

There’s been a huge push in recent years for those involved in the performing arts to seem as “relevant” and “relatable” as possible. Nowhere more so than in the areas mistakenly perceived as “elitist” — above all opera and orchestral music.

But writing persuasively — with no special pleading needed — about issues and dilemmas that have a contemporary urgency seems to come naturally to Mohammed Fairouz, the acclaimed Emirati-American composer whose latest work, The New Prince, just received its world premiere in an impressive production directed by Lotte de Beer at Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam. Regarded as among the most forward-looking opera companies in the world, DNO commissioned The New Prince as part of its Opera Forward Festival initiative, which promotes new artists and fresh approaches to the art form.

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Filed under: American opera, commissions, Mohammed Fairouz, new opera, review, Vanguard Seattle

The New Prince

Getting in the mood for the new opera by Mohammed Fairouz and David Ignatius at Dutch National Opera tonight.

Filed under: Mohammed Fairouz, new opera

Jonathan Dove’s Flight Lands at Juilliard

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Composer Jonathan Dove (Photo by Max Barstow)

My article on Jonathan Dove’s opera Flight for The Juilliard Journal:

Jonathan Dove’s three-act opera Flight has enjoyed phenomenal success since its 1998 premiere, as a commission by the Glyndebourne Festival. Opera Theatre of St. Louis staged the first U.S. production, in 2003, and to date Flight has been performed more than 85 times around the world in productions for mainstage opera companies and music schools alike. This month, Juilliard Opera opens its season with a new production of this comedy for 10 singers and large orchestra.

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Filed under: Juilliard, new opera

Opera Thrillers and Chillers

After recently covering a  powerful Flying Dutchman production and the world premiere of The Shining, a new opera by Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell based on the Stephen King novel, I decided to look a little more into the intersection of opera and ghost stories.

Here’s my new piece for Rhapsody. It’s a fascinating but enormous topic. I focused on the early German Romantic lineage, without even broaching the enormous popularity of Walter Scott-inspired Gothic opera (Lucia, etc.). Debussy’s Poe fixation, early Strauss/Hofmannsthal, Expressionism and other Modernist strains, and later manifestations are other topics I didn’t have space for here.

The Shining and Other Opera Thrillers and Chillers

Perched in the Colorado Rockies in the dead of winter, the Overlook Hotel is the setting for Stephen King’s 1977 breakthrough novel The Shining. It is during the off season at the vast resort that King’s fictional aspiring writer, Jack Torrance, takes up residence with his wife and son. He hopes to work on his latest opus in the peace and quiet, with minimal responsibilities as caretaker of the presumably emptied-out hotel to distract him.

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Filed under: essay, new opera, Rhapsody

The Shining: A Chilling Artistic Triumph

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My review of the new opera The Shining, by composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell, is now live on Musical America (behind a paywall):

 

St. PAUL—It seems fitting that the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, where Minnesota Opera makes its home, is located just a mile-and-a-half from the F. Scott Fitzgerald House, where … »Read

Filed under: Mark Campbell, new opera, review

Shedding Light on Dark Sisters

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l to r: Melanie Krueger (Eliza), Eve-Lyn de la Haye (Zina), and Heather Pawsey (Presendia) Credit: (c) Tim Matheson

 

A new review for Musical America, in which I write about Vancouver Opera’s current production — the Canadian premiere — of the chamber opera Dark Sisters. (Content is behind a paywall.)

VANCOUVER, BC — Dark Sisters is the final new work Vancouver Opera will have presented before Canada’s second-largest opera company shifts from the full-season model currently underway to a festival one (in the spring of 2017).

This chamber opera by Nico Muhly and librettist Stephen Karam was first seen in New York in a 2011 production by the late lamented Gotham Chamber Opera and then at co-commissioner Opera Philadelphia in 2012, where a chorus of praise replaced the rather tepid initial reception

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Filed under: new opera, Nico Muhly, review

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