The Teatro Massimo is not nearly as well-known internationally as those other theaters, but it is an opera house with a back story that few artistic venues can match. That in turn has contributed to bold experimentation in bringing high culture to a troubled community.
Christian Merlin: “What to make of the Internet? We tried to determine criteria, but it was difficult because, broadly speaking, none of the approaches worked. A press card? Even I’ve never had one. Remuneration? Most of the music criticism websites don’t pay their authors, so one might say that this isn’t a professional activity. The problem is that today, there are some really competent people writing on those sites. Some things have come out in the wash and the most serious and solid sites have come out in front, even if others are only moderately professional.”
These awards happened this weekend, and yes: “If the Grammys are out of touch, the iHeartRadio awards are almost too in touch, celebrating the most popular of popular music and rejecting stuff that’s unnecessarily hip or cool.” (Er … unnecessarily?)
“‘Katy Perry, please stop,’ [Sister Catherine Rose Holzman] said on Fox 11 in Los Angeles. Please stop trying to buy the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s convent, even though the nuns had gone to court to block the sale. ‘It’s not doing anyone any good,’ Holzman said, then walked into a courtroom, collapsed and died.”
This is what happened between March 8, 2017, and this year: “A group of trailblazing academics has spent the last 12 months tracking down the lost music of five forgotten women composers, who range from an 18th-century Viennese child prodigy to an award-winning African-American symphonist. All five women enjoyed recognition for music-making during their lives, but their achievements were often downplayed during their lifetimes and in some cases forgotten after their deaths. … The music has now been edited and professionally recorded by the BBC Orchestras and Choirs.”
The voice is a fragile thing, and few singers end up with 50-year careers at the Metropolitan Opera. The bass Paul Plishka is one of them.
“Almost 30 years after she first conceived the idea, Marina Abramović is to finally realise her Seven Deaths project. The Belgrade-born artist has turned the work into an opera, which she will direct herself. The production is due to debut at the Munich Opera House in 2020, with plans for it to tour to Covent Garden in London. The project will see Abramović play her lifelong hero Maria Callas dying in seven operas”
At Sky, Stuart Murphy was responsible for channels including Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky Arts. In his post, he spearheaded Sky’s increase in investment in original productions, tripling the budget during his tenure. Murphy joins artistic director Daniel Kramer and music director Martyn Brabbins on ENO’s leadership team.
“What’s always challenging is there’s so much scrutiny, and I do think the language the press and other people use is different. I got called steely, I got called formidable, I got called tough. I wanted to embrace those words, but every time someone said something like that to me, a little part of me died, because that is not how I meant to be.”
The tuba, the biggest and lowest-pitched among the brass family, can run from around $2,000 for beginner band models to more than $20,000 for specialized professional versions, says Martin Erickson, a past president of the International Tuba Euphonium Association. People with “nefarious” intentions, he says, probably try to resell tubas or use them in other bands. “You don’t expect tubas to fall into that sort of thing.”
Anne Midgette meets the composer, who’s about to make his Kennedy Center performing debut – at age 81 – with some of those keyboard pieces.
“The two stars recently took a break from their intense final weeks of rehearsals” – Fleming as Nettie Fowler in Carousel and O’Hara as Despina in Così fan tutte – “to sit down at the Met and talk about what they had learned about each other’s turfs, share some of their insecurities and, at times, swap a little advice. Here are edited excerpts from that conversation.”
NME (for New Musical Express), something like Great Britain’s version of Rolling Stone, had a circulation in the hundreds of thousands in the days of The Beatles and Rolling Stones and through the eras of punk, New Wave, and Britpop. In 2015, its print sales figures down to 15,000, NME made itself free and got its circulation back up to 300,000 – for a while. (NME will continue as a web-only title.)
Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston responds to an article arguing that we might soon be seeing female tenors on the opera stage: “‘Looser gender divisions in casting’ may well be possible in Shakespearean theatre, where speaking rather than singing voices are involved, but there are no female professional opera singers, even those of us who sing in the contralto range, begging to sing tenor roles such as Rodolfo (in Puccini’s La Bohème) or Alfredo (in Verdi’s La Traviata) at pitch.” (Or even transposed, for that matter.)
Billy McFarland, 26, pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud and agreed to pay restitution of $26 million to the Fyre Festival’s investors. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years for each count, though he will probably get eight to ten years.
The well-funded company, among the world’s busiest and considered among its best, has engaged Jurowski, currently chief conductor of the London Philharmonic and formerly music director of the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, beginning in 2021. He will be joined at the company by a new superintendent, Serge Dorny, who currently runs the Opéra national de Lyon in France.
With a statement that “due to the prevailing socioeconomic environment, it has proven very difficult … to raise enough funds to cover all operational needs,” Gauteng Opera announced that, after 19 years in operation, it will close at the end of this month.
“It’s no shocker to say that the choral and instrumental worlds have evolved quite separately over the past century. Highly chromatic or atonal music is rarely written for choirs, and the deep exploration of timbre found in instrumental pieces from later in the 20th century has mostly been ignored in favor of the pervasive choral sound inherited from the English cathedral tradition. Not only have the two worlds evolved separately, but their cultural importance is weighed differently as well.”
“Although it was Debussy’s orchestral work Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune that Pierre Boulez described as ‘the beginning of modern music,'” writes the MacArthur-winning pianist, “it was always at the piano where his revolutionary new approach to form and timbre developed.” (includes sound clips played by Hough and a playlist of his favorite Debussy recordings)
When the piece premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 1983, most of the reviews were harsh: The New York Times pronounced it “a pretentious failure.” Now, with the Bernstein centennial upon us, David Patrick Stearns looks at two versions of A Quiet Place – one brand new and released by Bernstein’s estate – that aim to show audiences the work’s underestimated strengths.
“That friendliness was in contrast to the bruising conflict between the orchestra and the Woodruff Arts Center, which led to lockouts in 2012 and 2014, picket lines, and harsh words. Ongoing deficits and deteriorating relations also brought about pay cuts, a shorter season and a shrinking orchestra.”
When the “Rhapsody” bowed, classical was seemly, jazz the outsider. By the time the jazz-band version was again in the ascendant, jazz itself had become “America’s classical music.” Now, both traditions are marginal to popular-music dominance. Near the end of the 1996 Ben Folds Five single “Underground” — a cheery, piano-pop ode to more hard-core musical subcultures — Folds, at the piano, drops in a quote from “Rhapsody in Blue.” Even the most daring cross-stylistic experiment eventually occupies just another niche. Nevertheless, the work’s competing forces still jostle for space. To perform the “Rhapsody” is, in part, an exercise in diplomacy.
“It’s a strange word, ‘jazz,’ The people I revere as master jazz musicians have said they don’t want the word. It’s limiting. It tells them more what they can’t be than what they can. So – do I consider myself a musician who is limited?”
Judith Lisi, Opera Tampa’s co-founder and CEO of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, has maintained that she did not know about the Canadian arrest warrant, which was issued in February 2017, until told by a Times reporter. But she has now acknowledged that Opera Tampa bought out the final eight months on Lipton’s contract. The reason, she said, was her concern over what she had heard about his behavior toward women.
Since peak plastic in 2001, CD sales have dropped 88%, from 712 million units to 85.4 million in 2017, according to Nielsen Music. With casual music fans done with discs in favor of streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, Best Buy is ceding the market to online retailers including Amazon and independent stalwarts such as Amoeba Music.
Dutoit was a guest conductor for the BSO, and an independent investigator found that he harassed four women in the 1980s and 1990s.
Greg Porée, one of the guitarists for the orchestra, was stumped (yes, even in Los Angeles) when it came to finding the right guitar for the nominated song from the animated movie Coco: “The Mexican vihuela, I believe it started in the 1800s, and it became very popular in mariachi bands because it’s very loud and it’s almost a percussive type of instrument where you strum it. It speaks very loudly. It cuts through all the singing and cuts through all the playing.” (Spoiler alert: He found one.)
Whew, things have changed since the category was added in the 1930s: “The list of undeserving — or worse, unmemorable — winners is a long and embarrassing one. Even more damning, many of the nominees and winners seem to have little to do with the movies themselves, blatant cross-promotional devices that serve only as the closing-credits Muzak for your shuffle to the exits.”
Perhaps the feeling of harmony can be laid at the feet of Deborah Borda, the NY Phil’s new president and chief executive officer. “Since her arrival she has helped to extricate the orchestra from a costly, disruptive plan to renovate its Lincoln Center home and raised $50 million to end its string of deficits and give it the resources to welcome a new music director, Jaap van Zweden.”
Yes, women have often sung tenor in church choirs or amateur operas, but now “female singers in professional companies, as well as in amateur operatic societies and choirs, are taking advantage of the end of traditional boundaries to call for women to have the opportunity of lengthening their performing careers.”