So you want to put on a grand opera – somewhere large and outdoorsy – but you don’t have the money for sets and costumes. (Are you listening, New York City Opera?) Well, now your worries are at an end. Because now, on eBay, you can buy complete productions, sets and all, of “Aida,” “Carmen,” “La traviata,” and “Nabucco,” plus costumes and props for a few more. Bidding starts at $1.
Vocal Arts DC, aka the Vocal Arts Society, has hired a new artistic director: Peter Russell, formerly of the Washington Opera, Wolf Trap, and the Washington Concert Opera. Indeed, Vocal Arts DC is about the only major vocal organization in Washington he hasn’t run.
A free event this weekend that’s well worth noting: the Kennedy Center is hosting a three-part chamber music marathon in the Terrace Theater on Sunday [corrected!]. Starting at 2:30 pm with performances by ensembles from the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project, in repertory curated by the composer Johannes Maria Staud, it continues in more conventional vein with NSO musicians playing Beethoven, Dvorak and Dohnanyi at 6 pm, and the Thymos Quartet at 8 pm.
I’ve started making fun of journalists’ tendency to identify any and all music competitions involving audience participation as some form of “American Idol.” On the other hand, it sounds downright stodgy to say “There will be an art song competition in which the audience gets to vote on the winner this weekend.” Isn’t it more fun to call it “American Idol for composers?” I guess decorum wins out, but in any case, I think I’ve gotten the point across.
Eschenbach and the NSO put on a strong performance of “Bluebeard’s Castle” last night. What an amazing piece that is.
Other perspectives from Charles T. Downey on Ionarts.
Stephen Brookes wrote an engaging review of a new endowed series at the Library of Congress, honoring the late Dina Koston, opening with a concert that paired music with a Becket play.
The National Symphony Orchestra wasn’t the only orchestra in town to reveal its 2012-13 season this week; the National Philharmonic also got a piece of the season-announcement action. Strathmore’s resident orchestra has established itself as a solid purveyor of the classics with a commendable sprinkling of quality soloists and a few twists, and this season bears out its pattern: you can hear all-Beethoven, all-Brahms, and all-Bach programs, but you can also hear the Lutoslawski cello concerto and the violin concerto by the late Andreas Makris, a former composer-in-residence and violinist with the NSO.
Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach teamed up for “Winterreise” at the Terrace Theater on Monday night: no frills, no choreography, no costumes, just honest singing and, surprisingly, slightly clunky playing. Click for my full review.
The Kennedy Center’s annual season announcement is a fascinating placeholder for an event: the packed Eisenhower Theater listens to Michael Kaiser, in effect, read through the press releases. The highlight on Tuesday was the appearance of one of the puppets from the play “War Horse,” which, stomping and whinnying and eating sugar from Kaiser’s hand, was certainly enough to make me want to go see the show. As for the season, a highlight is the festival Nordic Cool 2013, a title which lead to a diverting few minutes at our home thinking up other comparably cliched titles for future Kennedy Center festivals (“Latin Passion” and “The Inscrutable East” were among our favorites), though the festival itself has a lot to recommend it, including, on the musical front, visits from the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (under Sakari Oramo) and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (led by Ilan Volkov).
I certainly never meant to say so much about Osvaldo Golijov and the accusations of plagiarism that emerged in the wake of the discovery that a substantial chunk of his “Sidereus” were cribbed from another composer. But my original blog post spawned a short “rant” (a new feature) in the Arts section of last Sunday’s Washington Post, and now WQXR has posted a podcast on the topic, on which I am one of the guests. With each iteration of my argument I grow more vehement. I agree that his borrowing is not a great thing — the WQXR host, Naomi Lewin, plays three different iterations of the same piece, each performed under a different title — but I also find the righteous indignation of his current accusers, turning on a once-revered composer with something approaching glee, a little hard to stomach.
When I went to review Angela Gheorghiu’s recital at WNO — her debut with the company, no less — I thought it was going to be substantially more exciting than it was. It was certainly entertaining, but not necessarily good.
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