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Focus On Bright Stars, Ambitious Arts Festival Creates A Constellation

ADELAIDE – To offset other risks, the venerable Adelaide Arts Festival offered two shows directed by favorites of the annual event, Robert Lepage's treatment of Stravinsky's The Nightingale and Barrie Kosky's setting of The Threepenny Opera.

Hardly April, But Opera Displays Its Revitalizing Blooms In City Of Light 

PARIS – In an era when so many opera companies are struggling to fill seats and dialing back risk, it was salutary to see very fine Paris Opera offerings of Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda (right), Verdi's La traviata, and Handel's Giulio Cesare in one week.

Trip To Greek Homeland Mingles Nostalgia With A Fierce ‘Lady Macbeth’

ATHENS – As a native of Greece who has lived abroad for more than half of his life, this writer always gets a particular feeling being back amid the intimacy of Greek musical institutions, this time to witness Shostakovich's raw satire.

Aussies Around Globe Gather As All-Stars For An Ardent Mahler Ninth

SYDNEY – The Australian World Orchestra consists of Australians from distant points who meet annually in their homeland. This year, founding conductor Alexander Briger presided over a blood-on-the-floor performance of Mahler.

Vocal Fireworks Abound As Visiting Critic Revels In The Glories Of Madrid

MADRID – The Teatro Real lived up to its splendid reputation as an innovative, important company. After a stimulating week, one might even argue the renovated theater has surpassed Barcelona's Gran Teatre de Liceu as Spain's opera showplace.

‘Antony And Cleopatra’ Second Time Around: Love’s More Wonderful

BARCELONA – With Julia Bullock restored to her intended role, John Adams' Shakespearean opera on the ill-starred affair between the Roman general and the Egyptian queen was more gripping here than in the San Francisco premiere.

Ridiculous Virtuosity: Modern-Music Troupe Crackles And Dazzles

AMSTERDAM – The Netherlands' Asko|Schönberg ensemble, a multi-instrumental powerhouse, displayed its stylistic dexterity and exceptional ability to respond to any challenge in a concert featuring a world premiere at the Concertgebouw.

(Re)imagine That! Beloved Musicals Given New Gloss For New Age

LONDON – An exhibition exploring how classic musicals have been adapted, together with three vibrant productions, demonstrated how gifted directors can make familiar favorites fresh again while honoring the original creators' intentions.

Adams’ ‘Short Ride,’ Like Rest Of Sizzling Concert Fare, Gets Short Shrift

SYDNEY – On paper, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra program promised a night of fireworks: John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Wynton Marsalis' Violin Concerto (with Nicola Benedetti), and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The plan fizzled.

Festival Operas Pegged To Yesteryear; Concerts Come Up To Yesterday

SALZBURG – While the Salzburg Festival included operas from the Baroque through the Romantic eras, concerts and recitals tapped into the past century or so but featured only half a dozen living composers. Diversity was nearly a non-issue.

At The Salzburg Fest, Inspired Concerts And Two Tormented Operas

SALZBURG – While provocative new productions of Martinů and Mozart failed their librettos, uplifting concerts were offered by the Vienna Philharmonic under Riccardo Muti and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim.

On Roads Of Friendship, Muti Encourages Youths Toward Global Harmony

POMPEI – Annual tours by the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti, aim to build cultural bridges between cities affected by war and to create bonds through music. Venues have ranged from Kyiv to Tokyo and Athens.

‘Turandot,’ Heard Just As Puccini Left It, Was Simply The Bee’s Knees

ZURICH – Dropping Franco Alfano's familiar ending, director Sebastian Baumgarten placed the opera in a beehive, which fit neatly into the social stratification of Imperial China. Queen bee Sondra Radvanovsky wore robes of yellow and black.

Vermeer, Music Offered In A Citadel Of Culture: Vermeer Was Flawless

AMSTERDAM – A prodigious exhibit of Vermeer's paintings was still drawing crowds at 2 in the morning. On the music front, concerts at the Concertgebouw and Rusalka at Dutch National Opera had their moments, but also their issues.

Music Festival Retains Tradition While Honing Fresh, Edgy Relevance

BERGEN – An enduring past-present-future feeling marks Bergen's international festival, where city jewels such as the Philharmonic and Camerata Bergen are on display. This year, the Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen sang the title role in Tosca.

Chamber Music Contest Proves Classy Marathon For Polished Ensembles

OSAKA – Thirty-three ensembles, 98 musicians, and nearly 50 hours of music packed into eight days: That was the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and Festa 2023, reputedly the largest competition of its kind in the world.

A Reconfigured ‘Aida,’ As Critique Of War In Male-Controlled World

MUNICH – The production at the Bayerische Staatsoper was so brilliantly conceived and integrated that it felt as if themes intrinsic to the opera had lain dormant for well over a century, awaiting the right genius to bring them forward.

Comical ‘Merry Wives’ Is The Fantastic Affair Otto Nicolai Imagined

VIENNA – The energetic cast and staging by the young director Nina Spijkers brushed the dust off Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor with a winning combination of slapstick humor and high musical standards in a new production at the Volksoper.

In Handy Church Ruin, Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’ Finds Its All-Purpose Setting

TORONTO – The Canadian Opera Company production, starring a suitably anguished Quinn Kelsey, unfolds not on a blasted heath but in a roofless church that is reconfigured to serve as banquet hall, witches cavern, and battlefield.

On Tour Down Under, British String Quartet Meets The Didgeridoo

CANBERRA, Australia – The Brodsky Quartet, veterans of 50 years of music-making together, teamed up with didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton in his Square Circles Beneath the Red Desert Sand, on a bill with Bach and Schubert.
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