Guns & Coloratura Fuel Caesar & Cleo In Salzburg Remix

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Leiser and Caurier’s satirical 2012 production, now on DVD, has Cecilia Bartoli’s Cleopatra singing a Handel aria with a bag over her head, plus mind-bending sex, fantasy and horror that’s over the top.

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Forget Chopsticks; Amateur Pianists Show Real Chops

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By Susan Geffen

FORT WORTH – The stakes weren’t all that high at the Seventh Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition, but the artistic standard was. Thomas Yu, a 38-year-old periodontist from Calgary, Alberta, bested a strong field.

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Hungary Affords Worthy Option To Bayreuth’s Ring

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By James L Paulk

BUDAPEST – The appeal of this semi-staged Ring to Wagner enthusiasts is a story of magic, pluck, and luck, but also one of artistic success at a high level. The star is Ádám Fischer, who rivals the greatest Wagnerian conductors.

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With New Shell, Brevard Festival Revivified At 80

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By Paul Hyde

BREVARD, N.C. – The star of this year’s music festival, opening June 24, may be a new $2.5 million acoustical shell. Director Keith Lockhart plans the Beethoven Ninth, a slate of celebrated soloists, and a new “opera noir” – Falling Angel.

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Critics, Gathered In Charleston, Honor A Leader

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By John W. Lambert

IN MEMORIAM – Robert Paul Commanday, who died in 2015 at the age of 93, was fondly remembered in Charleston, S.C., where the Music Critics Association of North America heard a tribute to his guiding force in a transitional age.

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Evil, Body Parts, Blood Mashed Into Creepy Lang Opera

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – David Lang’s anatomy theater begins with an 18th-century public execution – free beer and sausages for the audience – before getting down to gory dissection and organ analysis to determine what made the dead dame tick.

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Women Composers Reign At Subdued 70th Ojai Festival

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By Rodney Punt

OJAI, Calif. – All but two works at this year’s festival were by women, about which Peter Sellars said, “I’d rather not have to mention that, but there’s something wildly exciting about hearing from the other half of the planet.”

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Grand Mahler 8th Caps Minczuk Era With Calgary Phil

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By Bill Rankin

CALGARY – There was a spirit of unabashed sentimentality as well as musical energy when the Calgary Philharmonic and a sold-out audience said farewell to Roberto Minczuk, who is moving on after a decade as music director.

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Trio Of Unusual Concertos In NY Biennial Wrap-Up

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By Leslie Kandell

NEW YORK – The second New York Philharmonic Biennial took over its hometown the way Wagner’s Ring cycle takes over Seattle. The festival concluded with virtuosic showpieces either brand new or new to New York.

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Around the U.S.

The Tragic Visage Of Lachenmann’s Little Match Girl

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By Johanna Keller

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Spoleto Festival USA presented the American premiere of Helmut Lachenmann’s stark, abstract opera, with John Kennedy conducting large forces in a complex score heightened by Dickensian shadow puppets.

On Porgy’s Turf, Gershwin’s Opera Is Right At Home

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By John W. Lambert

CHARLESTON, S.C. – At the Spoleto USA Festival’s 40th anniversary season, and in the Gershwin opera’s actual locale, Porgy and Bess received a historic and triumphant first staging at Charleston’s newly renovated Gaillard Center.

San Francisco Carmen Fails To Deliver The Heat

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By Lisa Hirsch

SAN FRANCISCO – What a surprise to find that Calixto Bieito’s controversial production is a remarkably tame updating of the opera with very little in it that’s more provocative than any other Carmen you might see.

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Around Canada

Charles Pope Jr., Noted Canadian Critic, Dies At 69

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By Earl Arthur Love

IN MEMORIAM – Charles Pope Jr. of Ottawa, Ontario, an elegant writer who was a longtime correspondent for Opera Canada and frequent contributor to ConcertoNet.com, died suddenly on May 31, 2016.

Toronto Festival Yields Gamut Of New Compositions

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Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The third annual Twenty-First Century Music Festival at the Royal Conservatory of Music presented scores ranging from here-today-gone-tomorrow works to pieces that could have some staying power.

Artistry Afresh At National Arts Centre Orchestra

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By Richard Todd

OTTAWA, Canada – It wasn’t the last concert of the season or even a regular subscription concert. But the orchestra’s “Life Reflected” program was an impressive climax to Alexander Shelley’s first year as artistic director.

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International

Incantesimi Plays With Spells, But Magic Is Missing

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Julian Anderson’s Incantesimi, or magic spells, introduced by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic,
shows Mahlerian foreboding at moments but never quite casts its own spell, despite an obviously caring performance.

The Tragic Visage Of Lachenmann’s Little Match Girl

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By Johanna Keller

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Spoleto Festival USA presented the American premiere of Helmut Lachenmann’s stark, abstract opera, with John Kennedy conducting large forces in a complex score heightened by Dickensian shadow puppets.

Dreamy Juliette Weaves A Spell In Berlin Debut

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The Staatsoper im Schiller Theater Berlin’s first production of Bohuslav Martinů’s surrealistic work should give opera houses around the world an incentive to invest resources in this 20th-century masterpiece.

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Issues in the Arts

Canada Tempest: Debating Critic’s Role In Our Time

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By Allan Kozinn

ANALYSIS – A publicist for Canadian Opera took issue with a National Post critique of Maometto II, an editor yanked the review, the critic was in the dark, emails went viral and things went downhill from there. What’s at stake here?

Robert W. Gutman Altered Views Of Mozart, Wagner

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By James L. Paulk

APPRECIATION – The American scholar, who died May 13 at the age of 90, was best known for landmark biographies of two seminal figures. The books dispelled myths and provided fresh and surprising perspectives.

Arts Groups Tweak Sights, Aiming For A Younger Crowd

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By Nancy Malitz

CHICAGO – Renée Fleming helped launch Lyric Young Professionals as a new generation support network aimed at ages 21-45. The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s effort, part of a national trend, revisits an old standby, the subscription.

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Disc and Stream

Pianist Roe Enjoys A Field Day With Nocturnes on CD

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Elizabeth Joy Roe performs all 18 of Irish pianist and composer John Field’s nocturnes on her new recording for Decca, giving listeners a taste of the form that would be taken up with greater distinction by Chopin.

Leoncavallo’s Zazà Revealed As Tragic Gem In Recording

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By Rebecca Schmid

DIGITAL REVIEW – Soprano Ermonela Jaho and tenor Riccardo Massi star as a naive French girl and her married lover in the CD rescue from obscurity of a verismo opera that trailed only Pagliacci in popularity for the composer.

Kavakos And Hope Work Wonders On New Recordings

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – These discs by two celebrated violinists in the prime of their careers could hardly be more different: Leonidas Kavakos plays virtuoso treats; Daniel Hope salutes his teacher, Yehudi Menuhin.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

MTT Revisits Das Lied Von Der Erde – This Time With A Mezzo

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
SAN FRANCISCO — Das Lied Von Erde, Mahler’s gigantic unnumbered symphony disguised as a song cycle, …

The Chairman Turns 100

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
While making the rounds of local garage sales over the past weekend, I spotted a box …

Pull Up A Chair at the Valley Performing Arts Center

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Frequent concertgoers are used to enduring the usual welcome  from some anonymous public-address announcer, followed by …

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