Stickboy Opera Makes Bold Case Against Bullying

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By Konstantin Bozhinov

VANCOUVER — In its world premiere by Vancouver Opera, Neil Weisensel and Shane Koyczan’s opera comes across as a brilliant depiction of librettist Koyczan’s experience as an overweight teen taunted and beaten up by peers.

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Desdemona Debut A Ringing Success For Soprano Pérez

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By William Albright

HOUSTON — In her first-ever performance in Verdi’s Otello, Ailyn Pérez proves she has the qualities needed to succeed in this challenging role. Her Otello in the Houston Grand Opera production is New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill.

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Andriessen Opera Makes Impact In Audio And Video

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW — The inventive Dutch composer’s La Commedia is a burst of audacious and eclectic ideas — based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy — in its CD/DVD debut. Expect equal helpings of shock tactics and lyricism.

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Amid Controversy, Met Affirms Merit Of Klinghoffer

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By Susan Elliott

NEW YORK – The relentless historical and emotional weight of The Death of Klinghoffer is carried not by the victim or his executioner. It’s the chorus that recounts the carnage and voices the sorrow, the sickness, and the rage.

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New Music Band Esprit Shows Its Singular Palette

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – There aren’t many orchestras with an exclusive commitment to new music like Esprit, led by Alex Pauk. Ives’ 1906 Central Park in the Dark, on a recent bill, may be the oldest work the group has ever performed.

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In Berlin, Hélène Not So Belle And Tosca Is Teutonic

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The Komische Oper and Staatsoper opened the season with new productions that fell flat. Barrie Kosky’s La belle Hélène offered strangely little Offenbach, and ‘Tosca,’ led by Daniel Barenboim, veered toward Wagner.

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Pianist Or Artistic Chief, Buchbinder Is Purist At Heart

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By Rebecca Schmid

VIENNA – Rudolf Buchbinder, who will play Stateside with the Boston Symphony under Thierry Fisher Oct. 16-21, is not a man of compromises. For several years, he has made only live recordings and usually travels without scores.

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SF Opera Extends Long History Of Triumphs In Ballo

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By Robert Commanday

SAN FRANCISCO — With Julianna Di Giacomo in her San Francisco Opera main stage debut as Amelia, the current Un ballo in maschera ranks with some of the better ones of a past illuminated by the great stars of the last 83 years.

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Around the U.S.

Bach’s St. Matthew Transfigured By Sellars, Berlin PO

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By Susan Elliott

NEW YORK – Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival opened at the Park Avenue Armory with the Evangelist (Mark Padmore) alone onstage, in Peter Sellars’ “vividly experiential” Bach with Simon Rattle, the Berlin Philharmonic and Radio Choir.

Rattle, Berlin PO At Carnegie: With Poetry, Rare Power

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By Lawrence B. Johnson

NEW YORK – Drama coaches often talk about muscularity in Shakespeare’s language. In a vivid, almost verbal sense, the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle reveled in the muscularity of music in concerts at Carnegie Hall.

New Music Fuels Carolina Concerts By Pittsburgh SO

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By Roy C. Dicks

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – From last year’s Composer of the Year program, which was a celebration of local talent, the Pittsburgh Symphony hit the road with Elements, a suite of brief sound portraits by five Steel City composers.

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Around Canada

In Montreal’s Fine Nabucco, Thoughts Fly To Curious Set

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By Earl Arthur Love

MONTREAL – With a superb cast including Ukrainian soprano Tatiana Melnychenko in the mercilessly difficult role of Abigaille, Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’ offered a powerful beginning to the opera season despite anachronisms and tired paint.

Keyed For Europe, Toronto Symphony Crowns A Festival

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Kicking off a European tour for the city back home, maestro Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed a festival concert for Toronto Summer Music, now in its ninth season. Next stop, Vienna.

Intimate Brahms From Bremen At Lanaudière Fest

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By Earl Arthur Love

JOLIETTE, QUEBEC – In a bucolic setting some call “Tanglewood North,” the small but first-rate Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Paavo Järvi kicked off a final summer festival week of three visiting orchestras.

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International

Da Vinci’s Design For Gamba-Organ Voiced At Festival

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By Rebecca Schmid

WROCŁAW – Leonardo da Vinci sketched a wheel-bowed keyboard instrument that he never built. At Poland’s festival Wratislavia Cantans, Sławomir Zubrzycki performed on his realization of the viola organista, completed at last.

Updating Strauss: Daphne In Denim, Up A Wall St. Tree

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By Susan Brodie

BRUSSELS – In Guy Joosten’s high-concept production, Daphne’s a dreamy heroine, quite literally a tree hugger, protesting against the technology-obsessed world of her parents, dissolute one-percenters in evening dress.

Rossini Festival Revives Aureliano In Vocal Splendor

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By Rebecca Schmid

PESARO – In the seaside town where Gioachino Rossini was born, opera has persevered with an unrivaled standard of authenticity. All productions this year, including Aureliano in Palmira, were based on recent critical editions.

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Issues in the Arts

Classical Radio’s Magic Still Rules In Face Of Change

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By John Fleming

How is classical music radio adapting to the digital world? Directors of enduring stations and programs in the U.S. paint a picture of an industry in flux. They pledge to compete by accenting on-air programs that are live – and lively.

Warmed Over Gala Fare Stirs Hunger For Fresh Entrees

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By Barbara Jepson

Orchestras tend to pack their inaugural concerts with the tried and true, but The Bass Whisperer, featuring soloist and co-composer Victor Wooten, for the Nashville Symphony, is one of this season’s intriguing departures.

At Cedille Records, 25 Years Rounded By A Little Curve

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By Kyle MacMillan

CHICAGO – James Ginsburg, founder of Cedille Records, quit law school to focus on his Chicago-based label, which is marking its 25th anniversary of off-beat and new compositions packaged in unexpected ways.

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Disc and Stream

Crumb’s Spanish, American Songs Make CD Debuts

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Before long, it seems, the words of Federico García Lorca will be set almost as many times as those of Shakespeare. For George Crumb, Sun and Shadow (2009) is his eleventh go at the Spanish poet.

Stravinsky’s Dim Hollywood Years Conjured on DVD

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – In just 52 minutes, Marco Capalbo’s new film summarizes how Stravinsky’s stay in Southern California prompted a rebirth of his creative energies even though he was rejected by the Hollywood movie industry.

Swinging, Soulful B’way Cast Clicks In West Side Story

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By Richard S. Ginell

Rejecting Leonard Bernstein’s disjointed operatic approach, Michael Tilson Thomas’ new recording is all of a piece, the sound of 1957 Broadway stretching confidently into fresh, tragic territory instead of a work at war with itself.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Charles Lloyd and Gabor Szabo Mix It Up, and the latest from Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendes

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Here are a handful of recent CD releases in jazz – or within striking distance of …

John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean Floats In on CD and DVD

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Pulitzer Prizes are no guarantee of quality or the lasting value of a piece of music, …

Philharmonie de Paris vs. Salle Pleyel: Sudden Death Play

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By Susan Brodie: Toi Toi Toi!

The long-delayed Philharmonie de Paris is on target to open January 14. But a sudden divorce court action threatens the non-compete stipulation, a linch pin of the hall’s operating budget.

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