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A Lark Ascending

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Ah, yes.

I loved the music, especially in the latter acts. And the costumes. Wild and colorful. The staging itself, less imaginative. And the story and libretto, uneven / disjointed. Once the queen appears (Act III) it's as if all that came before is shoved to the side and kind of forgotten. War? What war? Dead sons? Who cares. But it is supposed to be a fantasy / dream, so in an odd way maybe that fits. And as mentioned, the sometimes eye-rolling libretto didn't seem to dovetail with the beautiful, lush music.

Anyways, had a great time and overall enjoyed it.

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It is what it is. The performance I saw had maybe some better singers than yours but even so it comes down to one role and it is dramatically odd which makes it hard to do.

FWIW my one Rimsky holding on CD is the Mariinsky/Gergiev box of four operas on Philips. No libretti just a summary, so you can enjoy the music without taking the trouble to follow. That is the way to go, I think.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Philadelphia Opera -- "Yardbird"

Five performances in June.


March 12, 1955. New York City. Charlie Parker is dead.

But nobody knows it yet. In that twilight between the here and the hereafter, Parker sets out to write his last great musical work. As he composes, he revisits the inspirations, demons, women and rivals who fueled his creative genius.

Seen through the eyes of the women who loved him, the beauty that comes from this flawed man’s soul reminds the rest of us that beyond human fragility, beyond our internal battles, lies a world of union, harmony, and transcendent spirit.

Composer: Daniel Schnyder.

Have you folks heard of this? I'm not aware of this Schnyder fellow but from the bio linked above he seems to do kind of a classic-world-jazz-pop kind of cross-genre thing. I know nothing about the Philly Opera, other than anecdotal grumblings that the Academy of Music is ... lacking. This could be pretty cool or it could be complete schlock. Any ideas?

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Thanks. Still not sure what to make of it. Would probably go if I lived near Philly just out of curiosity. Perhaps there'll be some recording of it one way or another.

On another note, went to see Tosca last week and Don Carlos (Paris version) earlier this week. Both great. Starting to develop a little bit of a thing for Italian opera.

Don Carlos was a wonderful production -- beautiful music, elegant staging and costumes, fantastic singing and drama. I'd guess they sunk a good chunk of their production efforts / costs for the season into this one, it being part of their Verdi cycle, and a mammoth effort as well.

Tosca was well done as well, but not quite to the level of Don Carlos, which seemed to me as though it would not have been out of place in any opera house in the world.

So, that completes the season for me:

Marriage of Figaro, great music, enthusiastic production, very enjoyable;

Golden Cockerel, sub-par, frankly. Only with the appearance of the queen in the second act did the music start to take off. So kind of disjointed overall;

Tosca, very enjoyable, beautiful music, production in line with most of what else I've been to here, which is to say very good;

Don Carols, best combination of excellent production, music, singing, story, impact. Five star.

Side note: Neither of the last two included a prelude / overture, which I always kind of enjoy. Don Carlos had a very short orchestral introduction, but the curtain went up almost immediately in Tosca.

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  • 4 months later...

I missed this news earlier this year. God only knows how this will turn out, but I'm certainly curious.



Review in Opera News here.

Generally pretty favorable, and the reviewer thinks it has legs -- Gotham Chamber Opera bringing it to the Apollo Theater next season.

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  • 2 years later...

Spent the past two Sundays with some friends watching the Das Rheingold and Die Walkure from the Met's 2012 Robert Lepage production. Siegfried and Gotterdammerung still to go, but I think we're going to take a week or two off to digest.


Some extraordinary singers here, including the incredible Bryn Terfel as Wotan (perhaps the most demanding role in Die Walkure, at least), Deborah Voigt as Brunnhilde and Jonas Kauffman as Siegmund -- all incredible singers and all-in in these roles.

So, it takes some commitment to absorb this music/performance in one sitting -- one part of the cycle at a time, of course. It's emotionally draining and exhilarating at the same time. You feel spent and invigorated afterward. But more than that, it is just so damn musical -- the orchestration is exquisite, always present and intricately woven into the singers, you're always drawn to it (how can you not be!) but it's never overbearing or overwhelming the voices. The orchestra and voices are truly equal parts here, essential to one another and no doubt Levine is due great credit for that.

I'm coming around to the view that watching a filmed version of something like this, as opposed to experiencing it live, has some distinct advantages -- specifically the closeup shots of the singers that simply cannot be duplicated live (unless you're in the front row, which has it's own disadvantages in the opera house).

But the overall thing I wanted to convey here is that while diving into this can be intimidating for anyone, it is intensely musical on so many levels.

So musical.




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