International

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.

Coming Events: Festival Bounty Awaits In France

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By Susan Brodie

DATE BOOK – Perplexities are seldom more pleasant than what these summer fests propose: Stay in Paris for the likes of Raphaël Pichon’s Ensemble Pygmalion at Festival de Saint-Denis? Or head for splendor out of town?

Eclectic Fest By The Neckar, From Brahms To Jazz

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By Rodney Punt

HEIDELBERG, Germany – The 20th Heidelberg Spring tended to its Romantic-era roots with Brahms and Schumann, but also reflected the city’s
innovative present with pop and avant-garde events, and Thomas Quasthoff sang jazz.

Fresh From 1709, Steffani’s Amor Bows As If Anew

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Agostino Steffani’s international style was a model for Handel and Telemann. His renaissance seems belated, but it came at last with Amor vien dal destino at Staatsoper Berlin, the first time in more than 300 years.

Bavarian Radio SO Opens Tour With Korngold, Mahler

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By Charles T. Downey

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Led by Mariss Jansons on a six-city North American tour, the Bavarians paired a specialty, Mahler’s epic Fifth Symphony, with a touch of swashbuckling Hollywood glamour by way of Korngold’s Violin Concerto.

Historical Context Sharpens Focus On Music From Japan

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By Ken Smith

NEW YORK – Japanese music from the past 15 years, as curated by musicologist Yuji Numano, gave the impression of a new shared movement in the context of a continuum, almost a conversation among the composers themselves.

Tristan und Isolde As Stark Love In Repressive Times

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By Rebecca Schmid

BADEN BADEN – Mariusz Treliński’s darkly cynical take on Tristan und Isolde, which is headed for the Metropolitan Opera in September, plays out on a modern warship under the shrouded sun of imperial surveillance and melancholy.

Noh Plays Inspire New Magic From Saariaho, Sellars

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By Johanna Keller

AMSTERDAM — Only the Sound Remains, Saariaho’s iridescent new opera directed by Peter Sellars with abstract translucent designs of Julie Mehretu, heads via the Dutch National’s Opera Forward Festival to the U.S. in June.

Orfeo ed Euridice: Music Transcends A Deathly Concept

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The Staatskapelle conducted by festival founder Daniel Barenboim was more compelling than the murky abstraction of director Jürgen Flimm and designer Frank Gehry at the Staatsoper’s springtime Festtage.

Modernist Parsifal Redefines Grail In Quest Across Time

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By Susan Brodie

STOCKHOLM – Christof Loy’s moving, wonderfully sung production of Wagner’s Parsifal, starring Michael Weinius at the Royal Swedish Opera, is a deceptively traditional staging disguising a modern query into key themes.

After Too Many Lifetimes, A Life Hollowed Out

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Deutsche Oper’s busy, superficial staging of The Makropulos Case distracts from Janáček’s restless score and detracts from the opera’s spiritual core, a tale of an artist who becomes a victim of society and of art itself.

Russian Tenement Lends New Twist To Katja’s Anguish

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By Susan Brodie

WIESBADEN, Germany – Matthew Wild’s production of Janáček’s Katja Kabanova places the action in today’s Russia: Putin’s face glares from a bus shelter by the concrete apartment block where Katja’s life crumbles.

Eugene Onegin By The Book, But As Pastoral Romance

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Barrie Kosky is well established as this city’s operatic enfant terrible, yet his new directorial take on Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin has little sarcasm or fake blood. Its storybook context is timelessly modern.

Ruzicka’s Portrait Of A Philosopher More Of A Selfie

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – At the annual modernist festival Ultraschall Berlin, German composer Peter Ruzicka’s FLUCHT. Sechs Passagen for orchestra, said to depict philosopher Walter Benjamin, seemed more reflective of Ruzicka himself.

Debussy’s Light Shines In Pelléas By Sellars, Berlin

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – In an age of hyperactive productions, it is sobering to see director Peter Sellars capture the musical essence of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande in a semi-staging with the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle.

Bartoli-Villazón Road Show: Bel Canto Con Brio

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By Sarah Hucal

BERLIN – Flush with success from the Salzburg Fest, where they were paired as Iphigénie and Pylade, Cecilia Bartoli and Rolando Villazón are in the middle of a bel canto concert tour of European capitals, with Bartoli as the undeniable star.

Goldmark’s Exotic Sheba Is A Once And Future Queen

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By Arthur Kaptainis

BUDAPEST – Hungarian State Opera’s Die Königin von Saba (The Queen of Sheba) is a reminder that Goldmark’s lavish and accomplished blend of Biblical spectacle and Wagnerian passion was a hit in its day and could be again.

AIM Premieres, Flanked By Icons Of Avante-Garde

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – In AIM – Ich gehe, a new work by Nik Bärtsch for speaker, mixed choir, and piano duo, the Swiss composer intermingles the philosophical and childlike in his exploration of the “departure or awakening into both death and life.”

Ruptures, Restarts At German Festival Where New Reigns

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By Rebecca Schmid

DONAUESCHINGEN — In the 2015 iteration of the venerable contemporary showcase, the borders between performance and installation, musical and non-musical, remained fluid, continuing tradition in a time of difficult changes.

Tokyo’s Big Eight Orchestras Flash Bigtime Qualities

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By Robert Markow

TOKYO – The best of Japan’s 1,600 symphony orchestras – one for every 90 square miles in this island nation – showed their virtuosic stuff to a visiting critic, though success often seemed to depend on who was waving the baton.