an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise

Pianist Menahem Pressler at age 94: Fragile, fallible, but still a credit to his legacy?

Human beings are living longer - and so are performing artists. The question of when they retire gracefully isn't going away, and, if anything, will only require more finesse as musical legends have increasingly few reasons to retire. That question inevitably arose as pianist Menahem Pressler, the multi-decade soul of the Beaux Arts Trio, was helped onto the Kimmel Center stage on Feb. 9 for a Philadelphia Orchestra return in Mozart's Piano Concerto K. 488, some 70 years after his debut. He's 94 and has continued to play well in recent … [Read more...]

Michael Gordon’s Acquanetta: Backstage carnage amid on-screen horror

Mystery is the canny substitute for substance. The less that is known, the more implication can spin grandeur out of the mundane. And that explains Acquanetta, the single-named Hollywood star of 1940s B-movies like Captive Wild Woman who wouldn't have had even her brief heyday without the veil of ambiguity. Certainly, she wouldn't be the namesake of Michael Gordon's recently revised opera Acquanetta, seen on Saturday in a high-impact video/theatrical package that's likely to haunt me in my dreams. Though its run in the current Prototype … [Read more...]

‘A Room in India’ at Park Avenue Armory: A theater titan stumbles? Or fights back?

Those who like theater that’s epic, brainy and political couldn't have had a more irresistible ticket than A Room in India - no matter how expensive it was. Théâtre du Soleil, the Paris-based crucible headed by director Ariane Mnouchkine, has a history of indelible appearances at the Lincoln Center Festival and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. One need only see Mnouchkine's name and you're there, there, there. Yet the four-hour A Room in India, which plays through Dec. 20 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, had something like a 20 … [Read more...]

Janine Jansen at Carnegie Hall without veneer – or microphones breathing down her neck.

What price freedom? Carnegie Hall's Perspectives series allows its selected artist-curators to have something close to carte blanche over multiple concerts in numerous different forums. This year, the glamorous Dutch violinist Janine Jansen is one of those artists, and later in the season, she'll be joined by the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of the esteemed but little-known Violin Concerto of Michel van der Aa. But first ... She played a chamber music program of early piano trios by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff on Saturday at … [Read more...]

Another classical music critic is sent into the night … and this time it’s me.

Life in the newspaper world these days can't help but feel like Russian Roulette. With every wave of layoffs, my position has seemed that much closer to its end. And I'm surprised that I lasted as long as I did. But as of December 8th, after 17-plus years, I will no longer be on the Philadelphia Inquirer fine arts staff. I will continue to freelance for the Inquirer, but how much, and what that looks like, remains to be seen. I've seen this day coming for years - that's one reason why I moved back to my old, 1990s home in Brooklyn two … [Read more...]

New York Festival of Song on a day of wine and roses

The New York Festival of Song is one of those distinctively urban pleasures: Its season is a series of hand-crafted programs often mixing European art song with great American popular music, drawing from New York's world-class pool of singers, pairing the right singer with the right music in exactly the right sequence. But I had to re-acquaint myself with NYFOS in the village of Orient on the far North Fork of. Long Island - a quaint, time-warp maritime town just beyond Greenport - after missing it for many years. Sorry, but I lived in … [Read more...]

Bard SummerScape’s latest operatic resurrection: Dvorak takes Boris Godunov many steps further

Dmitrij is an opera that keeps growing before your very ears. And growing. And growing, until you have some of the most dramatically apt music Dvorak ever wrote for the stage. But about the time the plot strands need to be tied up - as they are in a matter of minutes of Verdi's Otello - Dvorak hits a stride that won't stop: The final act is around 90 minutes long. Walking into the opera on Friday at Bard College's SummerScape in Annandale on-Hudson, I knew there would be some forgiving to do and warned my friends that the first act is … [Read more...]

Janacek’s Vixen is re-thought and hunted down in the backstreets of London

The title, simply, is Vixen. It's not The Cunning Little Vixen or Russ Meyer's Vixen, though it was closer to the former than the latter. And true to the foxiness of the title, you had to hunt it down. Ostensibly an adaptation of the Janacek opera, Vixen was presented by a company called Silent Opera in conjunction with the English National Opera, and in a site nowhere near the ENO headquarters at the London Coliseum. The venue was something called The Vaults, tucked away behind Waterloo Station off Lower Marsh Street, with near-daily … [Read more...]

The Met’s new Rosenkavalier: Hello Robert Carsen, goodbye (maybe) to Renee Fleming

Operavore, WQXR!/story/review-richard-strauss-der-rosenkavalier-met-opera/ Review: Richard Strauss' 'Der Rosenkavalier' at The Met Opera Friday, April 14, 2017 - 03:00 PM By David Patrick Stearns So personal is the relationship between Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and its admirers that the arrival of a new production at the Metropolitan Opera is like having your living room redecorated. It has to happen every so often but disrupts your inner and outer world — while leaving you wondering what aspects of the … [Read more...]

Days of tension, anger and (thank God) New York Polyphony

Post-inauguration Saturday wasn't the easiest time to be in New York City. Whatever side you were on politically, the streets in much of mid-town were closed off. Police were everywhere. Cars seemed not to know where to go or what to do. I even saw a cab driving with its passenger door yawning open. The one way across 42nd Street was the Park Avenue overpass; looking down from it onto the street, I saw an ocean of protesters unlike anything I'd imagined. They were peaceful, but who knew that at the time? That night, just feet from an … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog