PARIS – For the opening concert of the Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris 2022-2023 season Sept. 16 at the Philharmonie, music director Gustavo Dudamel delivered a Ninth that was without histrionics or romantic indulgences.
TOKYO – The anticipation was palpable at NHK Hall, a stellar concert facility in the Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai broadcast complex. With an all-Strauss program (Don Juan, the Oboe Concerto, Der Rosenkavalier Suite), Fabio Luisi delivered.
LUCERNE – The buzz of diversity that rules this year's Lucerne Festival is evident in wide-ranging musical idioms and roots. Pianist András Schiff, reaffirming his commitment to the Western canon, said he had no time for the "second rate."
ROSENDAL, Norway – Amid a grand spectacle of mountains, meadows, and rushing streams, the 2022 Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, led by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, offered a pandemic-deferred four days of Beethoven at 250-plus.
LORETO, Italy – The performance here was the final stop on this year’s “Roads of Friendship,” an initiative of Riccardo Muti and the Ravenna Festival to build cultural links to cities affected by war. The Ukrainian National Opera Chorus sang.
AMSTERDAM – The 75th-anniversary Holland Festival, directed by Emily Ansenk, vibrated with issues of the day and acted as a compass for the creative currents at play across Europe. The emotional peak was Tunde Jegede's kora solos.
ZURICH – There are no splashing Rhinemaidens (they cavort with Alberich on a bed) in Andreas Homoki’s Das Rheingold for Zurich Opera. Loge channels Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, and Mime springs from the Three Stooges.
REYKJAVIK – Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre was a long time coming, but since its pre-Covid opening, the spectacular building with multiple performance venues has won the hearts of Icelanders as well as international awards.
PRAGUE – This culturally rich city boasts three splendid venues – Estates Theatre, State Opera, and National Theatre – that compete not only in their historical and architectural significance but also in their distinctive musical offerings.
BOOK REVIEW – In The Lost Pianos of Siberia, British journalist Sophy Roberts, who specializes in remote travel, comes to Siberia with a daunting, complicated, and noble objective: to find the perfect lost piano for a Mongolian concert pianist.
PARIS – The Opéra national de Paris opened its season with 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, a project created by, and starring, performance artist Marina Abramović. The diva's sundry expirations come mostly at the hands of actor Willem Dafoe.
BERLIN – Though presented in the pandemic's long shadow, stellar concerts by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Konzerthaus Orchestra drew elated audiences who offered Champagne salutes and even (a rarity) got to their feet to cheer.
BERGEN, Norway – At this year's Bergen International Festival, Liv Ullmann turned in a compelling performance as an aging woman in the grip of dementia in The American Moth, a multi-arts theater piece by Alan Lucien Øyen.
TIANJIN – Chinese students have long enjoyed a presence at The Juilliard School in New York. Now Juilliard has brought to China an impressive single-building campus with an international faculty to focus on ensemble training.
BERMAGUI, Australia – The 21st annual Four Winds event, held in a bucolic setting here April 2-4, spotlighted an array of classical ensembles, including the Goldner String Quartet and members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
DIGITAL REVIEW – A five-CD box set offers the Austrian lyric-coloratura soprano's entire recorded output (1921-50) in as well-repaired acoustic condition as we're likely to hear it – interpetive sparkle, free-floating top notes and all.
BOOK REVIEW – Western-style vocal techniques can inhibit production of the subtle sounds of Mandarin expected by native listeners. Singing in Mandarin - A Guide to Chinese Diction and Vocal Repertoire offers a guide to being understood.
PERSPECTIVE – Greek composer Calliope Tsoupaki's work Thin Air, written for worldwide Festivals for Compassion, has seen dozens of performances by a wide variety of musicians playing diverse instrumental versions.
OTSU, Japan – While the COVID-19 virus wreaked havoc throughout the world, causing performances to be canceled everywhere, including Japan, a Wagnerian-size miracle saved the painstakingly readied capstone to a Ring cycle.
HAMBURG – On their ten-day trek through Germany, Kirill Petrenko and the Berlin Philharmonic offered works by Zimmermann, Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff with rhythmic drive, even if the hall lacked punch at top and bottom.