We at Pasatiempo try to go the extra mile for our readers, or even, on occasion, an extra 5,000 miles. Among the more intriguing offerings at Santa Fe Opera this summer is the company’s first production of Beethoven’s Fidelio, which is set to open on July 12 with the American tenor Paul Groves in the role of Florestan.
The exhibition Venice: The Golden Age of Art and Music was mounted at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts last October and then moved to the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, where it closed in May. Curator Hilliard T. Goldfarb also served as editor for the accompanying catalog published by Yale University Press: Art and Music in Venice: From the Renaissance to the Baroque.
The Cocteau Cinema is turning into a veritable hive of Shakespearean activity.
In its heyday, the hangerlike expanse of the Blacksmith Shop in the Albuquerque Rail Yards was a deafening locale. On Saturday, May 3, the long-abandoned space will again resonate, this time with sounds of a gentler sort, as the ensemble Chatter inaugurates the renovated building with a concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Alfred Schnittke, and Arvo Pärt.
This week, composer Jesse Jones is visiting New Mexico for the first time since he left the state 19 years ago. From a composer’s perspective, the occasion for his return is triumphant indeed: the performance of a major work, his String Quartet No. 3, by the eminent Juilliard String Quartet.
Valentine’s Day, our annual celebration of love, would be practically unrecognizable without sweet music attached. Poets since time immemorial have infused their love scenes with references to music, the implication being that sensory pleasures are enhanced by a piling on of stimuli from various senses. So suggests Duke Orsino at the outset of Twelfth Night, even to the point of wishing that an overdose of music might lead to a breaking point that will alleviate his lovesickness: “If music be the food of love, play on;/Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,/The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
Those early Mozart admirers who so adamantly referred to him as Amadeus belonged to the emerging Romantic generation, and, true to their times, they sometimes gave free rein to their imaginations when deciding how to tell the story of Mozart’s life. This led to what we recognize today as exaggeration and misrepresentation. The early Mozart biographers — and those who repeated them in later generations — told awfully good stories, and it took at least a century and a half to eradicate some of the more ghoulish Mozart legends.
For centuries, poets and composers have been practically joined at the hip. In their pure forms, poems and musical compositions are entirely self-sufficient. Emily Dickinson can say “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” and readers don’t need a C-sharp or an E-flat to help them grasp the line. Of course, that hasn’t kept composers from providing exactly that; among the 20 or so art-song settings of that little poem, we find entries by such notables as Vincent Persichetti and Augusta Read Thomas.
Remarkable poetry resides in the fact that Benjamin Britten was born on Nov. 22, since in the Christian liturgical calendar that date marks the Feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Even after he became a famous composer Britten didn’t make a big deal about it, although he did compose a choral Hymn to St. Cecilia in 1941-1942.
A chilly autumn breeze had Santa Feans walking briskly on their way to the Lensic Performing Arts Center on the evening of Oct. 10, but the weather proved almost balmy compared to what awaited inside: a recital by the pianist Yuja Wang, who encased even the fervent outpourings of Chopin in a block of ice.
This season, the high-definition broadcasts of opera from the Met are to be beamed into some 1,900 theaters in 64 countries. At a time when the world seems so fractured, it is heartening to think of huge numbers of people across the globe simultaneously setting aside four or five hours to share a cultural experience
In Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the Shaw Festival unrolls every year from early April through late October — until Nov. 3 this year, thanks to the extension of one of its offerings. The festival typically presents 10 productions, an increase from the eight amateur performances of its first season more than a half century ago.
Among the festivals that exalt (mostly) classic theater, none in our hemisphere rivals the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario. That has been the institution’s name since 2008. Prior to that, it was called the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, which reflected whose plays it was overwhelmingly dedicated to producing.
The ears certainly got a workout over the past couple of months. In such a wealth of offerings there are bound to be high points and not-so-high points. This summer provided examples of both.
For a concert-goer, the past few weeks seemed like whitewater rafting. The river of music flowed ceaselessly, picking up momentum as it went along, its eddies and rapids succeeding one another so relentlessly that they allowed little time for recharging in between. Some anticipated moments provided memorable thrills when they arrived, some proved to be duds, and most fell somewhere in between. We can’t discuss them all in these columns, but a number of them call out for special comment.
On Aug. 4, soprano Christine Brewer appeared in a recital at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, assisted by Joe Illick as pianist. That performance was presented by Santa Fe Opera, which noted in the program “the collaborative support of the Santa Fe Concert Association.” Collaboration seems newsworthy in a town where mutual support among performing-arts organizations is scarce.
A group of fine musicians assembled at St. Francis Auditorium to perform Beethoven's Septet for Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon, in its original version, on July 28 and 29 in a concert presented by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival can keep a music lover very busy indeed at this season, and notwithstanding the abundance of the organization’s offerings, it appears to be attracting good-sized crowds to most of its performances.
You may recall pianist Soyeon Kate Lee from the flurry of publicity that surrounded a recital she played in New York in 2008. On that occasion, she wore a gown a designer had created for her from grape-juice pouches — to promote recycling. When
the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival presented her in a noon recital at
St. Francis Auditorium on July 18, she opted for an outfit of basic black.
In Mark Adamo’s opera The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which received its world premiere at San Francisco Opera on June 19, we get a brief glimpse of the title character in bed with Jesus, and that is something you don’t see every day. One might have anticipated that the city’s War Memorial Opera House would be besieged by fundamentalist picketers, but I didn’t see any.
Leonard Bernstein was a legend in his own time, and that was just the beginning. His hyperactive career prepared the way for a posthumous flowering that has been rarely equaled in classical music. This weekend, the Lensic Performing Arts Center hosts a recent offspring of the ongoing Bernstein industry: a one-man show titled Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein, written by and starring Hershey Felder.
The Borromeo String Quartet was founded in 1989 by four students at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. About five years ago, the musicians began playing from music displayed on laptop computers rather than from printed pages in their concerts.
Learning of Margaret Thatcher's death, many British citizens adopted as an anti-funereal anthem the song “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” which composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E. Y. “Yip” Harburg wrote for the film The Wizard of Oz. Harburg's story is eked out in a new volume released in December by Wesleyan University Press: Yip Harburg: Legendary Lyricist and Human Rights Activist by Harriet Hyman Alonso.
Santa Fe Pro Musica is no longer as devoted to period-instrument performance as it once was, but the historical-performance movement still holds sway over the Holy Week concerts the group’s Baroque Ensemble presents annually at Loretto Chapel.
Hilary Hahn is now 33 years old, and for all but the first three of those years she has been playing the violin. She burst onto the musical scene half her life ago, when at the age of 16 she received an exclusive recording contract from Sony Classical. The label audaciously introduced her to the world with a CD of unaccompanied works by Johann Sebastian Bach, the holiest destinations of the violin repertoire.