I'm in a cab trying to get out of Manhattan in the middle of heavy Friday afternoon traffic. Luckily, my Porter flight from Newark only is in two hours.
After a meeting with Ed Yim, the Director of Artistic Planning at New York City Opera and before a delightful lunch with Tim Fox, a vice president at Columbia Artists Management, I spent two wonderful hours at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic and its new music director Alan Gilbert. This is the end of Alan Gilbert's first season as music director and the program was a good example for his programming approach, combining well-known and lesser-known works of the classical canon with contemporary works. Two works of Richard Wagner (Siegfried-Idyll and Prelude and Isolde's Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde) framed two works by Viennese composers, HK Gruber's Aerial and Mozart's Symphony No. 25, a very intense and colorful combination of diverse pieces brought to a powerful conclusion with a powerfully lyric and passionate reading of Wagners Tristan excerpts. What a pleasure to hear this wonderful music played so well.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (2) / permalink
I am at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport waiting for my flight
This was my first trip to Dallas and I am glad I came. After my
arrival yesterday afternoon I met with Sarah Billinghurst, who had come
down from New York, and Kern Wildenthal, the president of Dallas Opera's
board of directors. Kern had kindly offered to show us around the new
Dallas Arts District. A few years ago Dallas embarked on a major
initiative to build an arts district next two I. M. Pei's concert hall
which had been built around twenty years ago. It is an impressive
undertaking and so far, a theatre building by Rem Koolhaas and Norman
Foster's opera house have been completed. The Koolhaas building is an
unconventional, post-modern high-rise with an industrial charm, a lot of
aluminum and exposed concrete and green, very green features, the stage
being on top of the lobby and all the offices and rehearsal rooms on
top of the stage, probably one of the most innovative theatre spaces I
have ever seen. Right across the street, Foster's opera house is more
conventionally conceived, but by no means less impressive or beautiful. A
lot of aluminum combined with features in burgundy-red, dark wood, and
gold in the auditorium which also features a very impressive chandelier.
The offices are the most beautiful I've ever seen in any opera company
in the world. As for the acoustics, Bob Essert, "our" acoustician for
the Four Seasons Centre, has once more advocated for an Italian
horse-shoe auditorium with a bit more than 2,000 seats and the sound is
truly wonderful as I could hear in the evening.
Read more . . .
This was my fourth visit to Chicago and the better I get to know it, the more I like it.
The Art Institute was only a short walk away from my hotel, and I spent almost the entire day there, except for the few hours at the Lyric for my auditions. It is an amazing museum and even more so since the opening of the Modern Wing, designed by Renzo Piano, which was opened a year ago and which I hadn't seen yet. Apart from the huge and impressive permanent collection there were two special exhibitions, the first on the transformative period of 1913-17 in Henri Matisse's artistic life (the museum owns a huge number of his works), the second a retrospective of the great photographer William Eggleston with works from the early sixties until today. I am glad I had a chance to see both.
Of the nine young singers I heard at the Lyric four have been with the Ryan Opera Center for only one week. Together with their older colleagues they are a very impressive group of great talent. We have a few graduates of the program coming to the COC already and having heard the latest crop I am sure there will be more in the future.
Cavalli's Giasone was one of the most popular operas of the early 17th century, but I had never heard it before. Judging from yesterday's dress rehearsal I trust that COT's production will be a success. The piece, written around the same time as Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, has extremely beautiful music with heartbreaking laments and sweet love duets, interspersed with comic episodes. Very entertaining, and profound at the same time. Sasha Cooke as Medea and Grazia Doronzio as Isifile gave absolutely stunning performances and there also was a wonderful Canadian contribution from Andriana Chuchman. I am happy that we have already hired two of these three singers for the COC.
I am at Chicago Midway Airport now waiting for my flight in order to be back for tonight's stage and orchestra rehearsal of Maria Stuarda.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
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