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Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

Thumbnail : John Banville’s Love in the Wars after Kleist’s Penthesilea at Bard Summerscape

John Banville’s Love in the Wars after Kleist’s Penthesilea at Bard Summerscape

If one has read one’s Classics, or has acquired a passion for ancient literature later in life and has read, say, Homer and the tragic poets with some attention, or, perhaps I should say, is older than fifty, one, in some human situation, whether intimate, passionate, urgent, or trivial, will occasionally get an uncanny feeling that one is living out Greek myth—that under one’s skin Achilles, Hermes, or Thetis are making us act and speak from within, as if we twenty-first century humans were nothing more than costumes for some drama of great antiquity that plays itself out continuously over millennia in strands intertwined with other narratives. Is this fate, or archetype, or merely common or garden human nature, observed as keenly by Homer, Pindar, and Euripides as by Dickens, Nietzsche, or Proust?

Thumbnail : John Banville talks to Michael Miller about Love in the Wars, his English adaptation of Kleist’s Penthesilea

John Banville talks to Michael Miller about Love in the Wars, his English adaptation of Kleist’s Penthesilea

John Banville and Michael Miller discuss Love in the Wars, his free English adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s play, Penthesilea, with a digression about the rest of Mr. Banville’s work, before returning to the play, which will receive its world premiere at Bard College Summerscape. Kleist’s theatrical ambition was to fuse Greek tragedy with Shakespearean “burlesque.” The work shows his pessimistic world view spiced with black Prussian humor.

Thumbnail : A Revised Brigadoon: An Important Musical Theater Milestone

A Revised Brigadoon: An Important Musical Theater Milestone

Sacrilege! Impertinence! Brigadoon, that beloved 1947 Golden Age musical about a Scottish town that awakens only once a century, has been rewritten! Ignoring silent protests and fears of Brigadoon fans everywhere, the Goodman Theatre of Chicago is presenting a new production with a new book.

Hold on to your bagpipes—they made it even better.

Thumbnail : The Other Mozart, written and acted by Sylvia Milo – at the HERE Arts Center, NYC, June 22 – July 12, and the Monomaffia Festival in Estonia

The Other Mozart, written and acted by Sylvia Milo – at the HERE Arts Center, NYC, June 22 – July 12, and the Monomaffia Festival in Estonia

One of the most remarkable theatrical presentations I saw in 2013, continuing on at various theaters in the United States and Europe, is Sylvia Milo’s The Other Mozart, a rich one-woman play she has conceived, written, and plays in, about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sister Anna Maria, or Nannerl, as she was known in the family. Today it is easiest to identify her as “Mozart’s sister,” since even specialists know her mainly as one of the composer’s closest confidantes and correspondents. They shared parents, provincial Salzburg, travels, musical gifts, and scatological humor. While “Wolfi,” as she calls him, went to Vienna to seek his fortune in the odd limbo between musical servant, entrepreneur, and stable employment, at least in a preliminary form—which is what was available to him at the time, she accepted the conventional prescriptions of her father. A child prodigy at the keyboard, her musical scope became severely limited once she reached marriageable age. Music became an ornament rather than a profession for her; she had to learn housekeeping—all to attract a husband. At the late age of thirty-three, she was finally married to a husband chosen for her by father Leopold and lost whatever was left of her continually diminishing self-determination.

Thumbnail : King Lear at the National Theatre, London

King Lear at the National Theatre, London

One of the odd and unique interesting qualities of King Lear is its fantastic and vague setting in prehistoric Britain, that Shakespeare chose a tale of a king you couldn’t find in a list of the Kings and Queens of England, even while he gave the play something of a history play shape, with British Kings and princes, crises of succession and fighting with each other and France. But it isn’t a history play, it’s based on a britannic myth that was already a myth in the middle ages, and the play is set around about some time in the misty, undocumented bog before Ethelwulf, Egbert and Offa, and after Arthur, but perhaps not, maybe it predates the Romans, maybe even the Celts? It’s in a parallel timeline no doubt.

Thumbnail : Throes Theater Company presents the Spalding Grey-inspired Halfway through the Story of Our Life

Throes Theater Company presents the Spalding Grey-inspired Halfway through the Story of Our Life

The amazingly talented Alexandra Zelman-Doring’s latest creation is a comic investigation of identity that brings three actresses, three musicians and three composers together for an engaging hour of music and verse. From Ms Doring — “The search that ensues when “we wake to find we have been living in a dream we chose to call “reality.” Why are we as we are? Who is the “persona” that builds up in and around us?”

Thumbnail : John Douglas Thompson’s Magnificent Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf — Last Performance June 29!

John Douglas Thompson’s Magnificent Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf — Last Performance June 29!

John Douglas Thompson’s brilliant performance as Louis Armstrong in Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf was one of the great moments of Shakespeare and Company’s 2012 season. As we rose from our seats after the performance, my companions and I were emotionally drained, that is, deeply moved, and we agreed that the play and its message were important. With John Douglas Thompson on stage the whole experience seemed overwhelming and beyond criticism. Yet shortly after the performance, an encounter with some of those responsible brought me down to earth and forced me to enunciate the flaws I’d noticed in as succinct and helpful a way as possible. The lighting needed polishing, mostly simplification, as did the play itself. Satchmo just got a little too busy with his tape recorders at points, symptomatic of a deeper problem in the narrative process of this extended monologue and the protagonist’s relation to the audience. There were and are other problems, which I’ll discuss later. Thompson’s acting was so powerful that one had to dig beyond it to get at these. There were only a few moments when it was tangible on stage.

Thumbnail : Woody Allen’s Bullets over Broadway

Woody Allen’s Bullets over Broadway

Once upon a time Broadway theater-goers’ mantra was “bring on the girls,” and shows were mostly opulent costumes, engaging settings and pure, unadulterated fun. Ever since Oklahoma, ostensibly the first big hit with a thought-provoking book and integrated musical numbers, writers and directors have searched, sometimes in vain, for ways to  raise the stakes and engage audiences minds as well as their hearts.

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  • A Singer’s Notes 93: Denève, the TMC Orchestra, and Berlioz; McGegan and Handel; Bernstein’s Candide at Tanglewood
    The excellent Stephane Denève chose two works of Hector Berlioz for his TMCO concert. Wholly remarkable was a performance of Les Nuits d'Été. The maestro gave these songs a sound I've never heard before. It was ravishingly quiet to begin with, not unlike the nearly silent playing Simon Rattle can achieve in his Mahler performances. It was like some
    Keith Kibler
  • Murder Myth Married to Music—Lizzie Borden Wields her Axe at Tanglewood
    In Jack Beeson and Kenward Elmslie’s 1965 retelling, Lizzie Borden is unequivocally presented the murderer of her step-mother and father; in the opening moments, as the orchestra starts up with a scream of outrage, Lizzie runs onstage with an axe and plants it firmly in the middle of the family table. It remains there for most of the opera, sometimes reached
    Larry Wallach
  • A Singer’s Notes 92: The Cherry Orchard
    The Cherry Orchard At Historic Park-McCullough in North Bennington, VT July 31 – August 9 Most remarkable in Living Room Theatre’s The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov on Friday night was a natural sounding translation of the play – something I have rarely heard. This was accomplished by the young actress who also played Anya, along with Randolyn Zinn. […] The post
    Keith Kibler
  • A Singer’s Notes 91: TMC Forever, and A Little Bit of Marlboro
    The Tanglewood Center Music Orchestra took on an enormous challenge in their first outing this summer. The Bruckner 4th Symphony is a magnificent leviathan of a piece which requires everything of its players and its conductor. The young French horn section deserves multiple plaudits. This work is one of the supreme tests of orchestral horn […] The post A Sin
    Keith Kibler