New York Arts

Experiments of the Ordinary: Giorgio Morandi at the Center for Italian Modern Art

Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta, 1963

All accounts suggest that the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) enjoyed a life of uninterrupted calm and isolation. Introverted by nature, Morandi spent his entire lifetime in Bologna, in the same apartment no less, and was dubbed il Monaco due to his almost monastic reclusiveness. He tended to paint at home, either in his bedroom or an adjoining studio, committing himself almost exclusively to the natura morta, or still life.

Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob Silverstein

Great musical communities are very like a ladder, the humblest freshman at conservatory, right up to the geniuses at the top. Music students have a natural capacity to worship great artists. First, there is a sense of wonder that a human being can do something so beautiful with a piece of wood or a small muscle in the throat. Then they become familiars—a lesson every week, maybe eventually a first-name basis, maybe not. Then the blessed few climb, some all the way to the top. When I was in school in Boston, the rare ones at the top included the genius Seiji Ozawa, the other genius Gunther Schuller, and the late lamented concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Joseph Silverstein.

Jeannette Sorrell, Music Director of Apollo’s Fire: The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, talks to Michael Miller

Jeannette Sorrell. Photo Roger Mastroianni.

Just yesterday I had the pleasure of talking with Jeannette Sorrell, Music Director of Apollo’s Fire, the highly acclaimed period orchestra based in Cleveland, where she founded it twenty-three years ago. Today, rather like the venerable Cleveland Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire tours extensively in North America and Europe, bringing Ms. Sorrell’s warm, expressive vision of Baroque playing to both seasoned and neophyte audiences. Tomorrow, July 2, she will lead them at Tanglewood in a program called “Bach’s Coffee House,” referring to the Café Zimmermann in Leipzig, where first Georg Phillipp Telemann and later Johann Sebastian Bach organised free public concerts. The program will include excerpts from Telemann’s incidental music to Don Quixote, Bach’s Fourth and Fifth Brandenburgs, and short pieces by Handel and Vivaldi.

Un Vaisseau fantôme inoubliable à Montréal…mais comment tuer Senta?

Le but principal de cet article et de louer jusqu’au cieux une représentation tout à fait remarquable—inoubliable, dirais-je—du premier oeuvre canonique de Wagner, mais c’est bien une mise-en-scène contemporaine—une mise-en-scène laquelle rend justice aussi bien à la problématique sociale de 1840 qu’a celle de nos jours—surtout à propos de la rôle des femmes dans la famille, le mariage, les moeurs bourgeois, et l’argent. Dans ce contexte le problème qui me frappe d’abord est celui de la mort de Senta, parce qu’il semble que les metteurs en scène de nos jours se sentent fort mal à leur aise avec sa mort telle que Wagner l’avait conçue, où elle se jette dans les flots tourbillants nordiques. S’agit-il de la vraisemblance, du goût, ou bien des frais toujours montants de l’assurance qui découragent la saute d’une soprano importante même d’une distance de deux mètres? Voyons.

Robert Gardner, Human Documents: Eight Photographers

Susan Meiselas, Dani woman covered in mud for traditional mourning, walking along new road, 1989. © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos.

This handsome, modestly (and conveniently!) -sized book was put together with a light, subtle hand, artists’ hands, and the reader will be immediately seduced by the striking photographic work which is its primary raison d’être, but Human Documents: Eight Photographers was founded on a precise argument, which Robert Gardner makes quite clear with his spare, patrician prose in the introductory essay. Eliott Weinberger introduces variations on it (as well as further points of view of his own) in his supplementary essay, “Photography and Anthropology (a Contact Sheet).” The book is intended to bear witness to the connections between photography and anthropology, and both Gardner and Weinberger discuss the historical background to this inevitable, but not always easy relationship.

Lewis Spratlan’s Opera “Life is a Dream” Premiered at the Santa Fe Opera

Lewis Spratlan, Composer

The story has been well told in the musical press by now about the delay in production of Lewis Spratlan’s great opera Life Is a Dream — commissioned in the late 1970s by an opera company that went out of business before the opera could be produced; rejected numerous times by other American and European companies; awarded the Pulitzer Prize a decade ago for a concert performance of Act II; more rejections for a full staging… Congratulations and thanks are due at last to General Director Charles Mackay and the Santa Fe Opera for taking a new look at this work, seeing its intrinsic worth and its great potential as staged music drama, believing in it, and now giving it a committed and brilliant production. This occasion is a triumph for all concerned. Here palpably, for the eyes and ears and mind, is one of the great American operas, one of the great modern operas, one of the great operas.

Die Geierwally at the Bromberger Waldbühne in Bromberg, Austria

Bernadette Abendstein with "SIgi"

Like the great migrations of the blue whale, the antelope, and the noble Canadian goose, come summer, European theater-makers flee the theater-laden capitals in flock and head to the countryside to make theater for the rural folk. So during my sojourn in Vienna, I too, took wing to the small hamlet Bromberg in search of the city’s thespians. An hour outside the city, I found the Bromberger Waldbühne, an outdoor theater with a sea of tables and benches for beer, goulash and chatter.

Katona József Theatre, Budapest, at the Lincoln Center Festival: Ivanov by Anton Chekhov

We seem to be enjoying a Chekhov renaissance at the moment. I feel extremely fortunate to have seen all major plays within less than a year, and one of them twice! All of these productions had their flaws and misjudgements, but they were all excellent nonetheless. As a whole, they showed that American and British directors are freeing themselves from tradition and are confident with taking risks in seeking out a harder, more contemporary edge and in exploring Chekhov’s evanescent transformations of tragic and comic moments. It is easier to translate words and sentences, even subtle ones, than it is to bring humor into a foreign idiom.

A tip for our readers: How to get the most out of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review for the Arts.
What if I hate reading on computer screens, even tablets?
We get occasional inquiries from readers about whether we plan to launch a print edition of our arts journals. The answer is that we've given it some thought, and we're still thinking about it.
It is not only our older readers who object to reading them online. There are even some millennials who would rather read from paper. One of our readers got the simple idea of using the sites as sophisticated tables of contents. She prints out each article on three-hole paper and files them in a loose-leaf album. I've devoted a lot of time to finding the very best print and pdf facility there is. Just click on one of the icons at the top right of the article and print!
Click here to make your tax-deductible donation to The Arts Press, publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review. Or click on the notice in the sidebar. The Arts Press is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Arts Press must be made payable to“Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.