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One Reason Critics Matter

When people worry about the impact of the recession on the performing arts, they worry about money: waning ticket sales, waning foundation support, waning gifts, waning fees. They should also worry about newspapers - about the draconian impact on arts journalism as papers cut back or go under. The arts cannot flourish in a media vacuum. I know there are new media. But cultural conversation on the web is diffuse. Whatever purposes it may best serve, serving performing arts institutions - one function, however incidental, of mainstream print … [Read more...]

Rescue Attempt for a Major Dance Work

To assess the legacy of a conductor, the first place to look is repertoire. Leonard Bernstein's too-brief decade as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic was remarkable in many ways, but the surest criterion of Bernstein's success is the music he successfully championed. He made Mahler, Ives, and Nielsen matter as they had not mattered before. Every orchestra, every conductor, should aspire to impact on repertoire - whether locally, nationally, or internationally. As a producer of concerts, and as Artistic Director of DC's Post-Classical … [Read more...]

How Performable Is Verdi at the Met? — Continued

In my last blog, I extolled a 1935 Met La Traviata broadcast as an antidote to the Verdi performances of today, and invited readers to listen to Ettore Panizza conduct the preludes, and to Lawrence Tibbett deliver the goods in "Di Provenza." My friend Ettore Volontieri, who trained as a baritone before becoming an inimitable artists' manager, wrote to remind me that the same January 5 broadcast features an equally memorable act two exchange between Germont and Violetta, with Tibbett and Rosa Ponselle. I refreshed by memory on youtube - and so … [Read more...]

How Performable is Verdi at the Met?

In the opinion of an eminent European conductor of my acquaintance, it was last possible to adequately cast the big Verdi operas in the 1970s. Nothing in my experience sporadically attending Verdi at the Met contradicts that view. Sampling yesterday's live broadcast of Aida, I listened to the tenor struggle through "Celeste Aida" and the soprano skim "Ritorna vincitor." It was enough. A welcome innovation of Peter Gelb's Met has been bringing Met broadcast performances of yesteryear into general circulation via Sirius radio. But the broadcasts … [Read more...]

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