Gluck’s Preamble To Trojan War Is Modern In Spirit

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By Keith Powers

BOSTON – Resisting Cupid proves futile in Paride ed Elena. Helen, the most beautiful of mortal women, tries not to love Paris, but rascal Cupid makes sure she does. Gluck’s taut foreshadowing of Troy plays out at Odyssey Opera.

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Concertgebouw’s U.S. Swing Begins On A Muted Note

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By John Fleming

NAPLES, Fla. – Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra led by Daniel Harding struggled to get its bearings at the onset of a U.S. tour, but all was forgiven amid the splendor of a Strauss tone poem woven into its DNA.

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From Mechanicals To Leaping Puck, A Dream Dream

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By Matthew Westphal

PHILADELPHIA – The North American premiere of an Aix-en-Provence staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at Opera Philadelphia, sported a delightful cast with a Puck who was game enough to vault himself into a parterre box.

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Tan Dun Passion Bridges Boundaries Of Style And Faith

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – Tan Dun, who had already composed a Water Passion, has come up with a terrific new twist on the idea. His Buddha Passion, in its U.S. premiere, showed universal appeal and emotional wallop sufficient to sweep the world.

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Mackey Gives MTT Joyous New Music For 75th Birthday

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By Janos Gereben

SAN FRANCISCO – Steven Mackey’s Portals, Scenes and Celebrations also honors Michael Tilson Thomas’ 25th and final season (2019-20) as San Francisco Symphony music director. MTT said he’d asked for “an easy piece.”

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Hardy Opera Buffs Cheer Climbers In Harrowing Everest

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By Bill Rankin

CALGARY – About 1,700 Calgarians braved bitter Arctic cold to see Joby Talbot’s 2015 Everest at Calgary Opera. The largely Canadian cast featured bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch as a climber left for dead. The staging originated in Dallas.

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Dead Man Walking: Potency Registers In A Stark Revival

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By Michael Huebner

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Opera revealed how composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally have assured the work’s staying power – by allowing a true story to unfold with grit and fervor in easily digestible musical language.

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Hannigan Doubles Down In Florida With Cleveland

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By John Fleming

MIAMI – Can a soprano sing and conduct at the same time? Can music from Berg’s Lulu and Gershwin’s Girl Crazy hang out together? Barbara Hannigan and the Cleveland Orchestra, on its winter sojourn in Florida, say Yes.

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Watermark Rolls Over Beethoven At Seattle Symphony

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By Jason Victor Serinus

SEATTLE – Caroline Shaw’s absorbing new piano concerto, Watermark, offered a response to Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Pianist Jonathan Biss and conductor Ludovic Morlot soldiered on despite a medical emergency in the auditorium.

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Around the U.S.

On Amazon River And In Old Ceylon, Lyric Operas Flow

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By William Albright

HOUSTON – Houston Grand Opera went aquatic, reviving Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, which the company had premiered in 1996, and presenting Bizet’s triangular love story, Les Pêcheurs de perles, for the first time.

Wolfe Fire Is Epic Political Oratorio On Tragic History

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By Xenia Hanusiak

NEW YORK – Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth, a multi-media oratorio on the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, touches on issues of immigration, labor relations, women’s rights, and assimilation in the premiere by the New York Philharmonic.

Salonen Steps In, Giving Unexpected Glimpse Of Future

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By Richard S. Ginell

SAN FRANCISCO – Esa-Pekka Salonen doesn’t formally take the SF Symphony’s reins until 2020, but he gave a sneak peek at his leadership with a program that included new music, a virtuosic showpiece, and a nod to his Finnish roots.

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Around Canada

Warsaw Winner Seong-Jin Cho Poetic, Virtuosic

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By Arthur Kaptainis

TORONTO – In music by Chopin and Debussy, the 2015 Chopin Competition gold medalist gave an impressive demonstration of pianistic métier while leaving room for reservations regarding his willingness to communicate.

In Wainwright’s Hadrian, Musical Merit, Iffy Libretto

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By Arthur Kaptainis

TORONTO – Despite a story of fiery passion and a score with many highlights, Rufus Wainwright’s second opera needs a rewrite. The Canadian Opera Company brought a dream production team and a stellar cast to the premiere.

Chang’s Ferocious Mahler Fifth Pulls Out All The Stops

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By Arthur Kaptainis

TORONTO – Can there be too much energy on the podium? Cellist-turned-conductor Han-Na Chang’s intensely kinetic approach to Mahler with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was a nonstop spectacle but became a bit exhausting.

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International

Ultraschall Fest Gives Posthumous Hirsch Premiere

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – In tribute to the late Michael Hirsch, Simone Young led his never-performed 2011 …irgendwie ein Art Erzählung…
(“almost a kind of story”), an episodic chain of thought that opens with an accordion’s ethereal cluster chord.

Violet Snow Shivers With The Chill Of Earth’s Last Throes

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – To the sound of melting glissandi and teeming microtonal strings, survivors walk toward a black sun. In Beat Furrer and Klaus Händl’s apocalyptic new opera, it’s lights out for Earth, and humans drift and stammer.

Staging Messiah For Our Time Is Mixed Blessing

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – A concert version for the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin by director Frederic Wake-Walker emerged as an ambitious but cumbersome attempt to infuse the religious work with contemporary relevance.

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Issues in the Arts

Ensemble Project Sparks Surge Of Creative Energy

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By Nancy Malitz

CHICAGO – The recently debuted Grossman Ensemble, a contemporary sinfonietta set up with funding for 15 years, includes thirteen award-winning instrumentalists committed to work with a dozen composers each season.

Amahl Production Connects Artists With Community

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By Susan Brodie

NEW YORK – For On Site Opera’s version at Church of the Holy Apostles, host to Manhattan’s largest soup kitchen, audience members were asked to donate food in lieu of cash. Tickets released online went in 20 minutes.

A Musical Mystery: Beethoven’s ‘Lost’ Tenth Symphony

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By Paul E. Robinson

BOOK REVIEW – This brilliantly researched novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Kluger will have scholars rechecking what they thought they knew about Beethoven, and mystery lovers delighting in the deft plotting.

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Disc and Stream

A Bouquet Of New Discs From Utah And Pacific Coast

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Five symphony orchestras in the West released new CDs within weeks of each other. Four of them stuck with Tchaikovsky, Berlioz and Saint-Saens, while the Oregon Symphony boldly explored new American music.

Two Major Late Works Continue Rautavaara Survey

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – To honor the late Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s 90th year, Ondine has reissued recordings of his strikingly beautiful Harp Concerto, formidable Eighth Symphony, and several shorter works.

Bernstein Videos: Eloquent Tristan, Rollicking Haydn

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Leonard Bernstein’s only full-length Wagner opera recording features a starry cast led by Peter Hofmann and Hildegard Behrens, while the Vienna Philharmonic delivers crackling Haydn 88, 92 and 94.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Monterey Jazz Salutes The Year Of The Woman

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West

MONTEREY, Calif. – The 61st Monterey Jazz Festival Sep. 21-23 was billed as a salute to “The Year Of The Woman” – and they weren’t kidding. Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and alto saxophonist Tia Fuller were designated as the artists-in-residence, singer Dianne Reeves was the 2018 Showcase Artist. The schedule was loaded.

Unreleased Coltrane CDs Stir Up The Jazz World – Again

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Everyone in jazzland seems to be weighing in on the release this week of Both Directions …

Fanciful Turandot Takes The Stage At Lyric Opera Of Chicago

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By Dorothy Andries: Windy City Arts

A China-that-never-was opened on the stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago, complete with a giant eye-popping dragon, which hovered with considerable menace in Puccini’s “Turandot.”

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