The World of Composer Richard Wagner and his operas. www.wagneroperas.com with frequent forays into the world of art, culture, and film.
- Name: Vincent Vargas
- Location: New York, New York, United States
Vincent Vargas is a foreign language teacher at a private school in New York City. He runs websites dedicated to Casablanca (www.vincasa.com) and Richard Wagner (www.wagneroperas.com).
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
Frank Martin and JS Bach Conclude Mostly Mozart
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the Moldovan-Austrian violinist had much to do with the success of this musical experiment. Her virtuoso playing ran the gamut from elegant to inspired, and it was filled with passion at every turn. The third polyptype, known as "Image de Judas" was particularly memorable for its shrieking, tormented strings that presented a Freudian portrait of Judas's troubled mind. The contrast with Bach's reverential "Wer hat dich so geschlagen" offered the most satisfying dialogue of the evening. The Concert Chorale of New York sang each of the chorales beautifully, and they returned in the second part of the program as the backbone of W.A. Mozart's Requiem, K. 626.
An audience favorite, Langrée led a smooth reading of this well-known score, opting for swift tempi and transparent sounds. He was aided by a quartet of capable soloists: Morris Robinson, a sepulchral sounding bass, and tenor Dimitri Pittas being the two stand-outs of the evening.
There will be one more performance of this program tomorrow, August 23, at 8:00 at Avery Fisher Hall.
Monday, August 18, 2014
We are Not Ourselves to be Published Tomorrow
Here is a review of the novel from author Neal Thompson: "Ten years in the making, Matthew Thomas’s heartfelt debut launches with the gritty poetry of a Pete Hamill novel: brash Irishmen on barstools, Irish women both wise and strong, and the streets of New York splayed out like a song. What’s special about this book is how Thomas takes us, slowly and somewhat unexpectedly, deep inside a family battling the gray-toned middling place of their middle-class existence. At the core is Eileen Tumulty Leary, urging her complacent husband and their impressionable son forward. Along the way, lives come and go. (“Fair enough,” her mother said, and in a little while she was dead.) There are some gorgeous scenes, some taut lines (I liked the air-conditioning unit’s “indefatigable wind”), and some heart breakers (a mother tells her son, at the funeral home, “That’s probably enough”). It’s thrilling to see an emerging writer test and flex his voice. Eileen and her husband are “co-conspirators in a mission of normalcy”; in truth, there’s occasionally too much normalcy in these 600 pages. Then again, it’s oddly addictive to watch this family unfold, age, and devolve. Intimate, honest, and true, it’s the story of a doomed father and a flawed son and the indefatigable and loving woman who keeps them all together, even as they’re falling apart."
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Il Trovatore at the Salzburg Festival
The doors shut, the lights dim, and those silent sentinels who spend their day seated in a corner of a gallery making sure visitors stay away from the art as well as the flashes on their cameras take on the roles of the portraits around them. Two of the guards just happen to be Anna Netrebko and Plácido Domingo. Before you know it, they've become Leonora and the Count di Luna, and are soon joined by Francesco Meli as Manrico, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, a giddy tour guide who turns into the tormented gypsy Azucena, and Ricardo Zenellato, an Italian tour guide who, at the beginning of the opera, scares his group of tourists out of their wits with a tale that could only be told by Ferrando, the bass character that he later becomes.
The stage is set for Verdi's "capa y espada" opera to be performed in a museum against the backdrop of familiar Renaissance and Baroque paintings. It's a night at the museum like no other night. Is it the director's view that opera belongs in a museum, with Il Trovatore the biggest museum piece one can find in the repertory? Are the many paintings of Madonna, Christ and John The Baptist supposed to remind us of the two children of the old Count di Luna? Like many "Regietheater" productions this one poses more questions than it actually answers, and the museum conceit grows tiresome almost immediately, although the deep reds and crimson velvets of the stage design and costumes are sumptuous to look at.
Daniele Gatti led the Vienna Philharmonic firmly, but with the kind of gusto I have not heard from him in a while. The results were long Italianate lines and wide transparent sounds. The work in the pit was perhaps the most memorable part of this very strange night in the museum.
Licia Albanese: 1913-2014
In 1946, in her prime, conductor Arturo Toscanini chose her to be his Mimi in the live broadcast concert performance of Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème, from NBC's Studio 8-H. This classic broadcast was later issued on LP and CD on RCA Victor.
She belonged to a golden age of opera singers the likes of whom we will perhaps never see again. She might not have been as popular as her contemporaries, Zinka Milanov, Maria Callas, Victoria de los Ángeles or Renata Tebaldi, but she was a consummate singer who night after night shared the stage with the great baritones and tenors of her day, which included Jan Peerce, Robert Merrill, Richard Tucker, and Leonard Warren.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Tristan und Isolde at the Grosses Festspielhaus
And needless to say, the sights and sounds of Israelis and Palestinians making music together is something that right now we desperately need. I'm convinced that this kind of event is not going to solve any deep present-day conflicts, but it will remind us of the kind of world that we all aim to live in.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Medea at the National Theatre
Friday, July 18, 2014
I Miss Last Year's Wagner Celebrations
By far, one of the most interesting events to mark the 200 anniversary of Wagner's birth took placed in Munich. Spencer Tunick's art installation "The Ring" consisted of over 1000 nude volunteers, some painted red and others silver, who "recreated" various scenes from the Ring Cycle in the center of the city.