Tag Archive: Janáček

Jakub Hrůša and Piotr Anderszewski reach a high level with the San Francisco Symphony

Jakub Hrůša. Photo Andreas Herzau.

2017 certainly seems to be a season for auspicious debuts and returns at the San Francisco Symphony! No sooner do we calm down slightly from Krzysztof Urbański’s Polish Lancer charge upon the Shostakovich Tenth, than it’s gobsmack-time once again from Eastern Europe: Jakub Hrůša’s levitating debut in a mostly Czech program few will forget!

Opera Boom: Lots of opera in Boston, but how much was really good?

Colin Balzer as Ulisse in BEMF's production of Monteverdi's "Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria." Photo Frank Siteman.

I need more than two hands to count the number of operas I’ve attended in Boston so far this year. Two productions by the Boston Lyric Opera, our leading company; nine (four fully staged) by our newest company, Odyssey Opera; a brilliant concert version by the BSO of Szymanowski’s disturbing and mesmerizing King Rogerall three of Monteverdi’s surviving operas presented by the Boston Early Music Festival, performed in repertory for possibly the very first time; a rarely produced Mozart masterpiece, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, in a solid and often eloquently sung concert version by Emmanuel Music; the world premiere of Crossing25-year-old Matthew Aucoin’s one-act opera about Whitman in the Civil War, presented by A.R.T.; and the first local production of Hulak-Artemovsky’s Cossack Beyond the Danube, the Ukrainian national opera, by Commonwealth Lyric Theatre (imaginatively staged and magnificently sung). Not to mention several smaller production I couldn’t actually get to—including an adventurous new work, Per Bloland’s Pedr Solis, by the heroic Guerrilla Opera, which I got to watch only on-line, and Boston Opera Collaborative’s Ned Rorem Our Town (music I’m not crazy about, but friends I trust liked the production).

A lot of opera! But how full is the cup?

Literally operatic: Two Boys at the Met plus opera in Boston

A Scene from Nico Muhly's Two Boys at the Metropolitan Opera.

A few minutes after the final curtain of Two Boys descended, after composer Nico Muhly received his ovation and joined the cast for their curtain calls, I think I figured out the true nature of this opera. This was the first main stage Metropolitan Opera production of the estimable Met/Lincoln Center Theater New Works program. Two Boys has been in the works for over five years, and had its world premiere at the English National Opera in 2011. The Met has given it serious encouragement and high-end attention. The opera has a libretto—based on an actual crime in 2001, in Manchester, England—by playwright Craig Lucas, a Pulitzer and Tony finalist; was directed by Tony Award-winning Bartlett Sher (South Pacific); and conducted by David Robertson, music- director designate of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a musician especially admired for his performances of contemporary music. The intricate production design by Michael Yeargan, which includes a gloomy police office with overhead fluorescent lights, and projections of computer screens and internet chat rooms (by 59 Productions), is certainly not cheap looking (as was Yeargan’s set for one of the Met’s few other premiere’s in recent decades, John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby). Care and money had clearly gone into this production.

Proms 2011 – a personal preview by Gabriel Kellett: Royal Albert Hall et alibi, 15 July – 10 September, 2011

I’m in two minds about the Proms tradition of always allotting significant programming space to composers with major anniversaries. It’s transparently a fairly arbitrary device to make the programmers’ jobs much easier and minimise the thorny problem of personal taste entering the decision-making process; on the other hand, without it we would never get three concerts this year featuring one of my favourites, Percy Grainger (died 50 years ago). In particular, the late night Prom on 2 August including Kathryn Tickell and June Tabor, celebrating the folk music Grainger was inspired by, is to me one of the most interesting this year.

Lars Vogt plays Janáček, Schubert, and Beethoven Op. 111 at Wigmore Hall

Worldly wise. I have enough concerts at Wigmore Hall under my belt to qualify as a Wiggie (not that I could ever vote Tory), if it’s not too cheeky to nickname the knowing regulars at this, the best hall in London. The seating capacity is only 540, a minnow that would disappear in the maw of Albert Hall, so the stars who appear here do it for love, not to mention the warm, enveloping acoustic—this must be the closest that a Pollini or Tetzlaff comes to singing in the shower. We are just a week past Pollini’s recital in Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, but the chills and tingles he failed to supply, sadly, came with a rush at Wigmore last night.

Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, after Dostoevsky, Patrice Chéreau, director, at the Metropolitan Opera

Jon Morris, Erwin E.A. Thomas (with eagle), Peter Straka as The Tall Prisoner, and Vladimir Chmelo as The Short Prisoner. Photo Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Metropolitan Opera House November 24, 2009 From the House of the Dead Janáček-Janáček/Dostoevsky Filka Morozov/Kuzmich – Stefan Margita Skuratov – Kurt Streit Shapkin – Peter Hoare Shishkov – Peter Mattei Gorianchikov – Willard White Alyeya – Eric Stoklossa Tall Prisoner…
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