Locke’s List for 2020: Major Discoveries and Pleasant Diversions in Operatic and Other Vocal Music (Plus a Ballet to a Scenario by Arthur Schnitzler)

What a strange, scary, and remarkable year 2020 has been, in all our lives! The social isolation that I have carried out pretty consistently has led me to look to music even more than usual for solace, enlightenment, and pleasant distraction. I gather that many music lovers have traveled a somewhat similar path since mid-March.

My penchant for opera, and for vocal music and for the theatre generally, has led me to get to know a number of recent CD releases, many of which I have reviewed for American Record Guide or for various online magazines.

The Glimmerglass Festival's Alice Busch Opera Theater. Photo Claire McAdams.

2012 Retrospective: Reflections on the 2012 Glimmerglass Opera Festival

At first, music and baseball might seem to have little in common. But don’t tell that to sports diehards and opera buffs in upper New York State. At least not in July and August, when a multitudinous group of fans from across the US converge at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. This year’s annual induction ceremonies were held July 20–23. Meanwhile, just a few miles down the road, devotees of vocal aspirants flocked to the Glimmerglass Opera to hear and see them “play ball.”

L to R: Glimmerglass Festival Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Glimmerglass Festival Managing Director Linda Jackson. Photo: Karli Cadel/The Glimmerglass Festival.

Crusading for Reason in an Age of Anger: Redefining Opera’s Role — Glimmerglass Festival 2012 and a Social-Centric Agenda

Should Art be merely an escape or refuge from the realities of our difficult times? In the 1940s, the debate heated and divided artists, musicians and scholars. In Wallace Stevens’s essay “The Noble Rider and The Sound of Words,” the twain are resolved in the idea that art, even “abstract” art can assume the role of social commentary only through innate and ineffable transformations of reality rather than by any explicit agenda dogmatically imposed by the creator. Great art could not be manhandled ideologically. How this solution might apply to opera of the past becomes the task of the director and musicians in balancing the surprisingly diverse elements of the music’s intent, the libretto’s intent, the historical context, and, yes, the composer’s objectives, if any. It is not surprising that Stevens regarded that an artistic creation had its own life apart from the creator’s wishes. Thus, we have the license for interpretation and deconstruction that has become the hallmark of Regietheater in our times.

Jack Rennie as Love with Peggy Kriha Dye as Armide and Curtis Sullivan as Hatred in The Glimmerglass Festival/Opera Atelier production of Armide. Photo Karli Cadel/The Glimmerglass Festival.

A Singer’s Notes 53: Lully’s Armide at Glimmerglass

Marshall Pynkoski’s direction of Lully’s Armide at Glimmerglass was a beautiful and unpretentious thing. It was also limited by the demands of a repertory opera house. The production trod a middle ground stylistically, using by necessity young conservatory-trained singers, the best that we have. This made for heavy going in the choral sections. The orchestral playing as well began with some detail and point, but changed slowly into a kind of general approximation of what standard Baroque practice is thought to be. Orchestral texture in this style is of the greatest importance, especially the continuo group. I would be looking for much more variety and also more stillness where the silences carry the words forward.

Lully’s Psyché by the Boston Early Music Festival, 2007, now on CD

Below you will find my review of the Boston Early Music Festival’s magnificent performance of Lully’s Psyché on June 24, 2007 at the Mahaiwe Arts Center in Great Barrington. As the 2009 festival approaches, it seems appropriate to transfer it to our new site with a few remarks about the recording of the performance which was nominated for a Grammy award for best opera. This vivid and colorful recording, made in Jordan Hall, Boston, provides an accurate, clear, and beautifully balanced record of the performance reviewed below. You will hear the splendid singing and original instruments in sparkling presence and full resonance, not to mention the liveliness of the singers interchanges. Bravi tutti!

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com