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.
SYDNEY – Pinchgut Opera of Australia staged Vivaldi’s Farnace, with countertenor Christopher Lowrey in the title role, in a new version that the period orchestra performed with clarity and crispness and a thrilling sense of propulsion.
SYDNEY - For his final year as artistic director of the festival, which ended Jan. 26, theater director Wesley Enoch anchored almost all of his artistic weight on indigenous storytelling through song, ceremony, and play-making.
VIENNA – Olga Neuwirth’s Orlando, modeled on Virginia Woolf’s novel, nearly emerged as a new genre on the cusp of opera and performance art, but social targets piled up. The Vienna State Opera lavished resources on the premiere.
VERSAILLES – John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles had its French premiere at the Opéra Royal of the Palace of Versailles on Dec. 4, and a persuasive case it was for this most American treatment of the Old World.
TOKYO – A recent visit to Tokyo netted a veritable avalanche of orchestral concerts: 16 performances in as many days, including international ensembles on tour and seven of Tokyo’s Big Eight. The Japanese shone.
BEIJING – With the theme “Timeless Music into the Future," the 22nd annual Beijing Music Festival took place in venues dispersed throughout the sprawling capital of China. A highlight: Du Yun’s opera Angel’s Bone.
BAMBERG, Germany – The Bamberg Symphony enjoys more per-capita civic support than the New York Yankees. A concert of Bruckner and Haydn under Herbert Blomstedt illustrated why: The clarity of the Bamberg sound is striking.
FRANKFURT – Under the direction of Alex Ollé, Oper Frankfurt’s Manon Lescaut is set in a strip club and Manon is an illegal immigrant dancer. Regietheater aside, the concept communicates effectively the opera's timeless conflicts.
PRAGUE – Dvořák and Smetana were nurtured in Prague, and Mozart found a haven there, as did classical music travelers in September when the Dvořák Festival was in full swing along with the city’s orchestras and opera.
OSLO – Avant-garde pop, dance, theater, installation, electronica, classical, and opera strapped in for a crazy ride with contemporary music as the 29-year-old festival looked at how traditions can be made to bend and buckle.
BERLIN – John Eliot Gardiner led a shining production of Berlioz's opera about the 16th-century Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Monteverdi Choir and a strong troupe of soloists.
SALZBURG – The Romanian composer’s singular 1936 opera has a tenuous place in the repertoire, but it’s been given a luxury revival. Achim Freyer’s new production brings together imaginative (if busy) staging and ace musicianship.
PARIS – Ivo van Hove’s dark production for the Paris Opera features modern dress and architecture. While it's faithful to the emotional life of the characters, viewers may miss the usual buffo style despite fine singing and acting.
LONDON – Composer-conductor Thomas Adès led the world premiere of Irish composer Gerald Barry's Viola Concerto with soloist Lawrence Power on a program by the Britten Sinfonia with two Beethoven symphonies.
BERGEN, Norway – At the 67th International Bergen Festival, director Anders Beyer has put together an intriguing mix of brand-name artists and experimentalists likely to leave some viewers wanting more and others overwhelmed.
BEIJING ‒ Canada's Tony Siqi Yun, the 17-year-old winner of the first China International Music Competition, played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.