International

Rattle, Berlin Aim To Tempt Appetite For Musical Tapas

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Unsuk Chin’s 11-minute Chorós Chordón leaves the listener wanting more. Premiered by the Berlin Phil and slated for an Asia tour, it is one of the brief musical “tapas” commissioned by chief conductor Simon Rattle.

Sondheim’s Follies Once More Shown In All Its Grandeur

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By Matthew Gurewitsch

LONDON – You might say that in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, daytime drama aspires to the condition of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Aspires to, and, in Dominic Cooke’s National Theatre revival, pretty well achieves it.

Wozzeck, Chamber Scaled, Still Packs Its Violent Punch

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By Rebecca Schmid

VIENNA – In Robert Carsen’s new staging of Berg’s opera starring Florian Boesch and Lise Lindstrom at the Theater an der Wien, themes of war-induced alienation and decay took on added resonance given today’s global instability.

Kaufmann Excels In Problematic Paris Don Carlos

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By Susan Brodie

PARIS – Although director Krzysztof Warlikowski was booed, his staging of Verdi’s five-act version included stellar performances by tenor Jonas Kaufmann, soprano Sonya Yoncheva, and mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča.

Past As Prologue: Tempest Revisited In Caustic Sequel

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By Matthew Gurewitsch

PARIS – Katie Mitchell’s staging of Miranda at the Opéra-Comique is billed as a “semi-opera after Shakespeare and Purcell.” It features the return of Prospero’s daughter from exile and glorious Baroque instrumentation.

Flower Of Hawaii, In Revival, Shows Bloom Is Off Lei

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By Matthew Gurewitsch

BASEL – The 1931 opera, composed by Paul Abraham to a cliche-steeped libretto by a committee of three, bollixes Hawaiian matters historical and geographical, but the grass skirts get some laughs in this new staging at Theater Basel.

Swirling Episodes Of Sound Probing New Sonics? Yes!

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Experimental dramaturgy reigned in a Musikfest concert that opened with a Rebecca Saunders world premiere inspired by Molly Bloom’s monologue in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Did Yes justify its 75-minute length? No.

Connections Made, Or Missed, Across Many Cultures

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By Rebecca Schmid

LUCERNE – With a densely packed “special event day,” this city’s illustrious festival deserves praise for tackling classical music’s role in an increasingly globalized society, even if artistic values were sometimes compromised.

Far-Flung Maestro Flourishes With Ensemble In Japan

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By Robert Markow

TOKYO – American-born Robert Rÿker, a tuba player turned conductor, has led orchestras on four continents over more than 40 years, but he has made his most distinctive mark as music director of the Tokyo Sinfonia.

In Meistersinger, Bayreuth Fest Has Its Prize Winner

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By John Rockwell

BAYREUTH – To assess the non-Ring operas at the 2017 fest is to go from the least successful oldest (Tristan, 2015) through last year’s Parsifal to Barrie Kosky’s intriguing Meistersinger as a musicale in Wagner’s home.

Young Singapore Musicians Conjure A Dream Orchestra

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By Robert Markow

TAIPEI – Showcased at an international festival, Singapore’s aspiring, self-governing Orchestra of the Music Makers, in its ninth season, sounded like a million dollars and was certainly at one with the Force.

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.