April 24, 2013 |
Mozart's The Magic Flute can be counted on for whimsy of the highest order, but not necessarily for magic. And when you notice during a performance that this is an opera whose main characters undergo tedious fire-and-water rituals just to get married, the piece as a whole isn't always working. Opera Philadelphia's current production, which opened Friday at the Academy of Music, was reasonably resourceful even if the singers were a bit green, in what amounted to a middling encounter with the least stageable of Mozart's major operas.
January 24, 2011 |
From the Grass-Is-Always-Greener Department: As classical artists increasingly crave hipster hangouts over art-house venues, Lidia Kaminska is hitting concert halls strapped to a rightful denizen of the saloon - the accordion. Not that Kaminska turns up her nose at any good gig. She has toured with Cirque du Soleil and been spotted at a popular South Street watering hole. Under the wing of very classical Astral Artists and presented Friday at the Philadelphia Museum of Art by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, she defies expectations; those who regard her instrument as a tacky wheeze lurking in beer halls and bar mitzvahs wouldn't have recognized it. Kaminska played Bach.
May 1, 2013 |
When first heard, Alfred Schnittke's Choir Concerto seems like an unapproachable musical anomaly - a piece that crashed into the repertoire with undeniable greatness but with challenges so steep that performers might not know where to start. Yet the Philadelphia Singers took the piece out of its ivory tower Sunday and put it where it belongs: In your face. When he wrote the piece in the 1980s, Schnittke was known for uninhibited explosiveness in symphonic works and operas that symbolized the old Soviet Union breaking free of Brezhnevian torpor and propelling itself toward a long-delayed arrival in the musical vanguard.
November 7, 2003 |
Despite steep artistic gains in recent seasons, the Princeton-based Opera Festival of New Jersey announced its closing yesterday amid mounting debt plus shrinking corporate and government support. "The accumulating liabilities could not be overcome while maintaining the quality of opera to which we are committed," board cochairperson Markell Shriver said in a statement. This season's accumulated debt came to $886,000. The company's projected budget for the 2004 season was $1.2 million.
May 8, 2013 |
If Wagner's music is as addictive as many say it is, the rehab centers are going to be jammed with Curtis Institute students after a Wagner-overdose concert Sunday at the Kimmel Center, aided by vocal performances from Heidi Melton and Eric Owens that the Metropolitan Opera's current Ring cycle would be lucky to have. Led by guest conductor Mark Russell Smith, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra excerpted five operas over 21/2 hours, playing with a muscularity that creating tsunamis of Wagnerian sound.
August 31, 2003 |
Like most barns, this one looks perfectly benign, unusual only because of its tidiness. Hunching over a snapshot of the building - in which he lived near the end of World War II - Marian Filar points to the small front step. "I had to pull myself by the door handle to get in, I was so weak," he says. "This was Barrack 16, the barrack for the uprisers of the Warsaw ghetto. We got special treatment in the morning: They woke you up with the butt of a gun. " "They" were the Nazi guards at the concentration camp in Majdanek, where Filar was sent after being captured as the walled-off Jews of Warsaw fought their German oppressors with whatever weapons they had, and with a fierceness that comes with believing you're probably going to die anyway.
May 22, 2013 |
So often in the fine arts these days, everything has to be called a "project," always sounding a bit more like research or fact-finding than anything creative. But in the case of Simpatico Theatre Project's premiere, The Lysistrata Project, at Walnut Street Theatre's Studio 5, the creators perhaps didn't know what else to call it. Part update, part adaptation, part new play, part political theater, this Aristophanes play is no longer about Greek women withholding sex until their husbands make a peace treaty to end one of their eternal wars.
February 11, 2007 |
Comparisons are accumulating. A year ago, violinists Janine Jansen and Julian Rachlin were, very simply, violinists. Now that these two promising soloists are an acknowledged couple - and how often do violinists get together? - they're compared to soccer star David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Adams - in a more genteel classical-music incarnation. At least last year. Now they're Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with fiddles. "Omigod," said Jansen the other day on the phone from Europe.
December 1, 2003 |
Composers have been increasingly visible at Philadelphia Orchestra concerts. They shamble on stage before the performance, say charmingly semi-comprehensible things about their pieces, and sometimes even dish the local critic. Yet composer Jennifer Higdon, who lives only four blocks away from the Kimmel Center, didn't do any of that on Friday when her piece blue cathedral made its Philadelphia Orchestra debut. And that was a relief. The piece needs no introduction. It defies analysis and might be unexplainable.
September 16, 2007 |
Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra met last night at the Kimmel Center to discuss a contract proposal hammered out after another round of talks with management. The current three-year contract, which covers all 100-plus orchestra musicians and librarians, expires at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, and despite talks that have stretched on for months and the hope of an early agreement, negotiations have once again gone down to the wire. Players last night received a proposal for a three-year contract and are set to vote on the offer tomorrow night.