Peasant Woman’s Courage Inspires Hypnotic Opera

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – LA Opera Off Grand performed Kamala Sankaram’s Thumbprint, about a young gang-rape victim who summons the strength to report the crime, in the presence of the work’s subject, Pakistani activist Mukhtar Mai.

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New CD Shows Off Clarinet Mastery, With Double Twist

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By Paul Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – In a pairing of recent concertos by Osvaldo Golijov and Christian Lindberg, Swedish clarinetist Emil Jonason showcases not only his technical virtuosity, but also an exceptional flair for generating excitement.

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New Opera Award Goes To Mazzoli, Vavrek For Waves

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By John Fleming

Breaking the Waves, with music by Missy Mazzoli (right) and libretto by Royce Vavrek, is the first winner of the Music Critics Association of North America’s Best New Opera Award. The presentation will be made July 19 in Santa Fe.

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Trip To The Moon: Gift To Amateurs, Laced With Maxim

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Andrew Norman’s educational opera A Trip to the Moon, with the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle and a large cast of pros and amateurs, is skillfully constructed while leaving an aftertaste of cliché.

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Campra’s Carnaval Is A Musical Circus On Teeming Stage

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By Keith Powers

BOSTON  – Adding to its chain of splendid opera productions, the Boston Early Music Festival offered a stylish account of André Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise, a tale of love and murderous revenge from the age of Louis XIV.

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Texas Bach Fest Sees Energy Surge With New Director

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By Mike Greenberg

VICTORIA, Tex. – Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, the new artistic director of the Victoria Bach Festival, signaled Baroque mastery plus an intent to up the festival’s game in modern repertoire and music of Hispanic heritage.

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Ojai’s Adventures In Stylistic Fusion Confound The Ear

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By Richard S. Ginell

OJAI, Calif. – In a festival known for stretching, musicians led by composer-pianist Vijay Iyer went about as far as you can go with improvisations that raised the question, what is the line between music and noise?

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Around the U.S.

3 Cliburn Winners Showed More Than Flashy Technique

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By Kyle MacMillan

FORT WORTH, Tex. – The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition winnowed 30 contestants to three winners, including gold medalist Yekwon Sunwoo, who played Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto in the final round.

Angels In America, As Opera, Loses Its New York Focus

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By David Shengold

NEW YORK – The filleting of literary works for operatic treatment is nothing new, but the New York premiere of Péter Eötvös’ Angels in America finds Tony Kushner’s epic drama to be robbed of its rich socio-political specificity.

Met Orchestra Scales Heights In Mahler And More

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By Lawrence B. Johnson

NEW YORK – Led by Esa-Pekka Salonen at Carnegie Hall, the Met’s pit band confirmed its status as one of the world’s top orchestras in three programs pairing music by Mahler with works by Schumann and Sibelius.

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Around Canada

Nary A Weak Link In Concert Packed With New Music

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The Bang on a Can All-Stars performed works by a dozen contemporary composers from Canada and the United States in an eclectic program that included John Oswald’s “plunderphonic” treatment of a Motown hit.

Hoping For Spark, Vancouver Opera Becomes Festival

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – In a bold restructuring that replaces the conventional season, the first Vancouver Opera Festival, April 28-May 13, will boast three full-scale productions as well as solo performances and a variety of special features.

Native Resistance Recalled In Opera Of Canadian West

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – In choosing Louis Riel, a rebel of the Canadian Métis people, as the subject of their 1967 opera, composer Harry Somers and libettist Mavor Moore hit on a dramatic topic that’s so Canadian it bleeds maple syrup.

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International

Lunar Parsifal: Toto, We’re Not In Bayreuth Anymore

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By Rebecca Schmid

VIENNA – At the Theater an der Wien, installation artist Jonathan Meese and Austrian composer-librettist Bernhard Lang created Mondparsifal, a new version of Wagner’s Parsifal that moves the action to the future, and to the moon.

Rattle Nears Exit In Berlin, Remains Champion Of New

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN –Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face Suite is part of a series of commissions that will accompany Simon Rattle on his final stretch as Berlin Philharmonic music director. He leaves in 2018 to focus on the London Symphony.

Granted, Medea Is A Murderer, But Her Kids Are Dolls

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Stage director Benedict Andrews’ new
staging of Aribert Reimann’s Medea for Komische Oper is visually unimpressive. Still, a listener could not help but get swept up in the desperate title character’s emotional world.

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Issues in the Arts

Fine Book Details Cliburn’s Victory At Tchaikovsky

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By Colin Eatock

BOOK REVIEW – In When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath, Stuart Isacoff brings a pianist’s insights and historian’s rigor to an event that shook the world nearly six decades ago.

Think Like A Pro To Get Big Sound At Your Desktop

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By Michael Gray

DIGITAL – You may be surprised that you can enjoy great musical sound from your computer. To get there, you need to address some basic questions, ranging from what you expect to hear to the space available on your desk.

Anton Coppola, Feted At Age 100, Still The Maestro

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By John Fleming

TAMPA – Conductors tend to be durable, but maestro and composer Anton Coppola, still active, hit the century mark on March 21. Four days later, Opera Tampa honored the ageless Coppola at a two-hour concert – which he conducted!

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Disc and Stream

New CD Shows Off Clarinet Mastery, With Double Twist

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By Paul Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – In a pairing of recent concertos by Osvaldo Golijov and Christian Lindberg, Swedish clarinetist Emil Jonason showcases not only his technical virtuosity, but also an exceptional flair for generating excitement.

Wagner’s Other Comedy Makes Merry DVD Debut

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – The production of Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love) from Madrid’s Teatro Real breezily whisks the work into present-day Palermo, where director Kasper Holten presses some pop-culture buttons.

One Prodigious CD Illuminates Music Of Adolf Busch

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – The great violinist, quartet leader, and festival founder Adolf Busch (1891-1952) composed music of all kinds, some of it championed by son-in-law Rudolf Serkin. Jakob Fichert performs all the piano works.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

John Adams on Record – Part Two

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Here is Part Two of my updated, expanded, 70th birthday discographical survey of John Adams’s music, …

John Adams On Record – Part One

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
 
My most vivid memory of John Adams was way back near the beginning of his career, …

Susan Brodie - Toi Toi Toi

A Paris Opera 2017-18 Season to Enchant

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By Susan Brodie: Toi Toi Toi!
“Laissez-vous porter”–let yourself be carried away–is the motto of the Paris Opera’s 2017-18 season, and the upcoming program provides …

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