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Sunning At The Beach As Earth Turns Plastic: Lyric Of An Anti-Opera

SYDNEY – Sun and Sea, a Lithuanian opera that plays out with a cast lolling on a sandy stage, offers a subtle commentary on mankind's casual neglect of the planet. Seated above the beach, the audience gets a telling view of, well, itself.

The Lure Of Barcelona’s Architecture Leads To Musical Treasure Trove

BARCELONA – On my first visit here, I was thrilled to behold Antoni Gaudí's famed buildings. But I was also captured by Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen as Giorgetta in Puccini's Il tabarro and by German violinist Isabelle Faust's stellar quartet.

Staatsoper, Volksoper, And The Reframing Of Vienna’s Opera Legacy

VIENNA – The opera landscape here, beloved by both locals and tourists for its traditionalism, is in a state of transition. New stagings of Weill's Dreigroschenoper and Wagner's Meistersinger put the wave of revisionism front and center.

An Epic End Of Days, Created For A Big Tent, In A Resonant Revival

VIENNA – Franz Schmidt's ambitious adaptation of The Book of Revelation, which foretells the end of history, was resurrected under conductor Ingo Metzmacher with the Wiener Symphoniker and Wiener Singverein, which gave the 1938 premiere.

Mahler Mashup ‘Opera’ Meets ‘Rigoletto’; Jester Wins, And It’s No Joke

VIENNA – When the Vienna State Opera presented its devoted patrons with a staged melding of Mahler's Das klagende Lied and Kindertotenlieder opposite Rigoletto, the crowds flocked to Verdi and largely ignored the song-cycle contrivance.

Hot Love, Cold Murder: La Scala’s New ‘Fedora’ Delivers Lyric Scorcher

MILAN – The Bulgarian Sonya Yoncheva, in a sumptuous and smoldering performance, joins a starry list of sopranos who've been glamorous enough to breathe life into Umberto Giordano’s widowed and wealthy Princess Fedora Romazoff.

Reveling At The Proms: Music’s Bounty Savored In A Binge Of Concerts

LONDON – Plunging into the first full Proms season since Covid closed down this venerable series in 2019, I caught 14 concerts over three weeks. Here are my impressions from diverse programs, starting with two Finnish firebrands.

Mahler Ninth In Paris: Dudamel, Opera Band Offer Restrained Drama

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.

Luisi Parlays Strauss Into Dazzling Start As NHK Symphony Chief

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.

A Celebrated Festival Embraces Diversity. And A Star Pianist Demurs

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."

Celebrating Beethoven, Late But Gloriously, In Norwegian Countryside

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.

Muti’s Friendship Series Capped With Concert In Tribute To Ukrainians

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.

Global Issues, Diverse Perspectives Set Edge On 75th Holland Fest

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.

‘Rheingold’ In Zurich, Or Wagner Does Hollywood (Jean Harlow Sighting)

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.

Iceland’s Dazzling Hall Bathes Concert Life In Sea Of Northern Lights

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.

Saga Of Prague’s Grand Theaters Played Out As Gilded Historical Drama

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.

Quest For Piano Leads Writer To Adventures, Stories Across Siberia

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.

Callas, Resurrected, Dies Again (And Again) In Seven Famous Roles

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.

Toasts And Standing O: Berliners Citywide Hail Live Music’s Renewal

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.

Festival Drama Is Ode To Human Resilience In Face Of Human Frailty

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.
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