International

For Opera-Bound, Competition Final Is All-Around Win

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By Rebecca Schmid

MOSCOW – The International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in the courtyard of the Helikon Opera had three top prize winners, but other hopefuls also cashed in with immediate engagements at several opera houses.

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.

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.

Old Music In New Venue: Paris Puts Hall In The Seine

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By Rebecca Schmid

PARIS – Part of a project in the western suburbs on the former site of the Renault car manufacturer, the new glass-domed Seine Musicale music center looms over the Seine river, reminiscent of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

Wolfgang Rihm Weaves Reflective, Poetic Requiem

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By J.J. Van Vlasselaer

LUCERNE – Requiem-Strophen takes us on the journey of the mystery of death and how it turns life into our reality. The Easter Festival concert, led by Mariss Jansons, opened with Rihm’s memorial to Pierre Boulez, who died Jan. 5, 2016.

Comic Sorochintsy: Pigs On Stilts In Ukrainian Village

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The Komische Oper production of Mussorgsky’s Fair at Sorochintsy, directed by Barrie Kosky, explores young love, superstition and alcoholism. It pulls out all the stops in a dream banquet featuring porcine humans.

Death In Venice: Cast Is Ripe, But Staging Is Green

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – In Graham Vick’s new staging of Benjamin
Britten’s final opera, it was hard to reconcile Deutsche Oper Berlin’s high musical standards with a production that seemed to spurn any sense of Apollonian beauty.

Scartazzini Opera Fails To Shock In Berlin Premiere

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Deutsche Oper Berlin’s production of Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini’s Edward II has a scandalous veneer in weaving the tale of the doomed 14th century British king and his gay lover. The audience takes it all in stride.

Music From Japan: Sounds Are Novel, Style International

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By Susan Brodie

NEW YORK – Yuta Bandoh’s sensuous Seesaw for violin, piano, and spatially-placed string trio had its world premiere among works by seven others in a weekend devoted to new directions in Japanese contemporary music.

New Light On Nazi Rule In Orchestras Of Vienna, Berlin

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By Paul E. Robinson

BOOK REVIEW – The Political Orchestra by Fritz Trümpi provides important new information and a broader context for understanding how the two greatest orchestras in the German-speaking world were affected by politics.

Rattle, Berlin Phil Explore Drama In Symphonic Music

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Under the baton of Simon Rattle, the Berlin Philharmonic brings out the theatrical dimension of works by Rihm, Ligeti and Mahler. The Rihm premiere Gruß-Moment 2 was composed in remembrance of Pierre Boulez.

Visual Magic Hits, Misses In Ravel, Stravinsky Bill

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – In Komische Oper’s staging of Petrushka and
L’Enfant et les sortilèges, animated visuals by British studio 1927 immersed viewers in an alternative universe, but human performances proved a stronger attraction.

Passionate Duet: Mascagni Paired With Hindemith

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By Susan Brodie

PARIS – Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, featuring Elīna Garanča singing her first Santuzza, and Hindemith’s Sancta Susanna share a Paris Opera bill that makes for an evening of fierce drama and satisfying music making.

Venerable Suntory Marks 30 Years As Tokyo’s Heartbeat

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By Robert Markow

TOKYO – The sound is full and warm, and the architecture combines grandeur with restfulness, intimacy with spaciousness. These qualities were in evidence during performances by the Vienna Philharmonic in early October.

Political Terror Spans Time, Place In Redrawn Operas

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By James L Paulk

BUENOS AIRES – Teatro Colón paired Luigi Dallapiccola’s finest opera, Il prigioniero (The Prisoner), with his first, Volo di notte (Night Flight), in a staggering tour de force that alluded to Argentina’s “Dirty War” of the ’70s and ’80s.

Rihm’s Tutuguri Leaves Percussive Tattoo On Festival

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – With his sprawling Tutuguri (1980-82), Wolfgang Rihm set out to liberate music, transforming it into a stream “subject only to its own urges.” Daniel Harding led a consummate performance to open Musikfest Berlin.

Heart Of Parsifal Beats Clearly In Bayreuth Staging

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By James L. Paulk

BAYREUTH – Uwe Eric Laufenberg’s new production of Wagner’s Parsifal represents a startling turn from the recent festival practice of filling the stage with multiple complex references, and the result is psychologically satisfying.

Women Flourish With Baton At Lucerne Festival

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By Rebecca Schmid

LUCERNE – In a showcase that challenged an orchestral culture weighed down by its own conservatism, the 2016 festival featured a special event in which Anu Tali and four other women conductors led personally selected fare.