In the spirit of the Twelve Days of Christmas as a time for quiet reflection and a turning inwards, we’d like to offer a gift of a recording of New York Arts‘s second performance event, held on June 1, 2013, at 7 pm, in connection with my own exhibition of photographs of Western Ireland at the Centerpoint Gallery in New York City: a reading/concert in which the acclaimed poet, Lloyd Schwartz, Senior Classical Music Editor of New York Arts, read poems by W. B. Yeats with interludes of traditional Irish music played by Dorien Staljanssens, flute, and James Cleveland, fiddle.
Much credit must be given to Theatre Company of Hubbard Hall’s John Hadden for putting up an “Ondine” that was not an exercise in nostalgia. There was also an excellent kind of sharp energy in the Ondine of Autumn Hausthor. This was not a passive immortal, but a quirky, even annoying, young creature. Her performance flavored the whole production. I also was invested in the performance of Gino Costabile, who did all of his roles, especially The Old One, convincingly. Maizy Scarpa was a model of versatility as Hans, all again with a kind of sharp insouciance that kept the play from sentimentalizing. Best of all, as so often, was Doug Ryan as the King. Ryan has a true comic gift in which we see the tears behind the laughter, the pathos in the one-liners. He did a superb job of portraying the King’s sad bewilderment and also his kindness. Mr. Ryan’s performance, brief as it is, is well worth the trip to Cambridge, NY.
When I interviewed Francesca Zambello in 2011 she had just been named General and Artistic Director of the Glimmerglass Festival. Under her predecessor’s tenure, each opera season had a unifying “theme.” Ms. Zambello quickly swore off such yearly festival themes as trite convention. Yet, in 2012, as reported in this journal, one clearly felt the bristling fervency of social activism in every aspect of production. That season was topped off with a provocative interview with Ruth Bader Ginsberg to a packed audience in her thrall at the Otesaga Hotel. There were probably more law professors there that day than music lovers. Her special appearance and the ethical themes woven into each opera production, made for a startling and refreshing season. Aida, Music Man, Armide and most memorably, Lost in the Stars, were narratives, each quite unique, on the ethics of outworn societal patterns in the face of political, moral or economic change.