The Don Jr. side-show in Ohio
The Arts before and after…
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DPQuinn | New Jersey 6/19/22.
For grammar school this is amazing. All we had was the triangle, sing along, and Recorder (of all things) in High School. Nonetheless, I was profoundly interested in music and opera as a child via the voice of Caruso, Beethoven’s life and deafness and the auditory bombast of Wagner.
I was self-motivated to do this with my Irish/Italian background, since I was so bored in grammar and high school-except for The Drama Guild.
Last night on PBS, I got through Act One of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO with Quinn Keley, Piotr Baclava, and Rose Feola were all gripping and sang beautifully. The RIGOLETTO moved from Renaissance Mantua to Weimar Germany made little sense. Why ? This only confuses audiences and undermines Verdis’ score and intent.
The Met premiere of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda ( 2013) on PBS with Joyce DiDonato as Maria was stupendous gripping, virtuoso performance. Set in the period and not Las Vegas or Coney Island.
Joyce DiDonato rose to great heights in her performance, under Maurizio Benini’s conducting. South African soprano Elza van den Heever sang Elizabeth and Matthew Pollenzani were also excellent.
The Chorus sang beautifully and performed with discipline in David McVicar’s moving and noble production.
PBS encored Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva as Mimì and American Tenor Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo who were phenomenal. Marco Armiliato
Gaetano Donizetti’s late ironic comic moving opera DON PASQUALE (1843) was heard on WQXR radio in a encore program well worth hearing as well.
While this observation may be overdue, when The Met stopped broadcasting on WOR radio it lost a huge chunk of popular awareness in the public. Too bad.
At Ramapo College I produced a Classical Music Series featured Emmanuel Ax; Ursulla Oppens; Fred Sherry and Joyce Mathis from Young Concert Artists in the York Room and served tea to Mr. Ax in my dorm apt to Ramapo College of NJ.
At the NYPhilharmonic I met Pierre Boulez after his RUGS Concert Series when he autographed my recordings of Bartok’s MIRACULOUS MANDARIN and Stravinsky’s PETROUCHKA.
At La Scala I watched Krystoff Penderecki fighting with the La Scala orchestra over his opera PARADISE LOST. Half the production was left at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Chorus sang Milton’s text phonetically in English. It was a mess in Milan.
Subsequently, I began a multi-year correspondence with Italian Composer Sylvano Bussotti. We met at the Guggenheim Museum when his music was heard there. The City of Florence gave him a major Festival when he turned 80 a few years ago. Unfortunately, much of his work has never been heard here, much to my regret.
For Kurt Weill, I produced HAAPY END at Snug Harbor. Earlier I also worked on the Yale derived ill-fated Broadway premiere with Meryl Streep and Bob Gunton. In my production, it was prudent to cut the lugubrious text by 2/3. HE was the failed successor to THREEPENNY OPERA. Set in 1920’s Chicago with gangland warfare and the Salvation Army. Surabaya Johnny is a highlight but Brecht and Weill wrote about a place they had never been and the show has no emotional moorings.
Earlier I worked on a MOTHER COURAGE with Olympia Dukakis that used the original Paul Dessau score in in Montclair. Dessau wrote a beautiful score almost never heard again.
We did gripping songs by Hanns Eisler in MIXED VOICE and HAPPY END in upstate New York and Snug Harbor. Music by Louis Morreau Gottschalk, and Stephen Foster as prologue to HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY. This 1877 play by John Maguire received an Award from The Irish Institute and is in the permanent collection of Theatre on Film (TOF) in the NYPublic Library at Lincoln Center.