March 2015

Theater

No-Win Productions presents the World Premiere of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck, FJF, at the New Ohio Theater, February 28 – March 21 (closed)

Georg Büchner, in Germany, is considered one of the nation's greatest writers, and their most prestigious literary prize is named after him. However, productions of his plays are rare in this country, most likely to be found on university and college campuses—even during the bicentenary of his birth in 2013. That is why I was so especially keen to see the No-Win Productions' staging of his most famous play, Woyzeck, in Jeremy Duncan Pape's adaptation, entitled Woyzeck, FJF (the protagonist's initials).
Opera

New York City Opera Renaissance Gala Tribute to the Late Julius Rudel and Fundraiser

The demise of New York's beloved City Opera seemed sudden and bizarre—and so painful to opera lovers in the City, that many lost sight of what a long process it was. The board's bad decisions went back around a decade. The company's deficits climbed, and its endowment was repeatedly raided. There was time to change things, and the warning signals were unmistakable. The late Gérard Mortier's innovative spirit and visibility may have been an asset, but he was hardly famed for his thrift. In the end they couldn't afford even to get him started. When the NYCO couldn't meet the budget they had agreed to offer him, he backed out. His replacement, George Steel, had similar artistic inclinations.
Music

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts The London Symphony Orchestra in Colin Matthews, Gershwin (with Yuja Wang), and Shostakovich

If you feel pursued by good luck, do we call it paranoia? This is the question I must answer lately, since it seems the London Symphony has chased me down in San Francisco—to my great delight! Just a month ago, I had the good fortune of hearing Sir Mark Elder lead the orchestra in a solid Pathétique at the Barbican. By the time my visit was over, I had experienced the Berlin Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Philharmonia and the London Philharmonic, as well. What puzzled throughout all this listening was the difficulty of telling the orchestras apart in London's Barbican and Festival Hall, clinical modern venues with limited reverberation and bass.
Coming Up and Of Note

Before Bach: Late Renaissance and Early Baroque Music at Carnegie Hall — a Month-Long Series in April and May

For years, New York City seemed to have missed out on the extraordinary efflorescence of research, study, and practice, which has made historically informed performance such an essential part of music-making in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The early music scene was hardly non-existent, but it was thin in comparison to centers like Boston, London, Amsterdam, and Paris, patronized by a small band of enthusiasts who at one time actually looked the part, crowding into Manhattan’s less fashionable churches in colorful woolen tunics, knitted caps, and Earth Shoes. There don’t seem to be many of those people left around, and a much larger range of audiences, spanning all age groups, now hear historical performances in the major venues, especially Carnegie Hall
Music

Stephen Porter plays Debussy’s Preludes, Books I and II at SubCulture, New York

One can't say that performances of both books of Debussy's Preludes are absolutely unheard of, but they are sufficiently uncommon for Stephen Porter to deserve our admiration for his courage and enlightenment in offering them in the form he did. Not only did he perform both books in their entirety from memory, he prefaced each with a piece from Debussy's earlier Images, in order to prepare the audience, and included engaging discussions of the composer and the works, not only providing us with background, but preparing us to listen, to enter Debussy's particular world of sounds.
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