Friday, September 21, 2007

MET v. NYCO: Are We About, Finally, To Witness Significant Creative Competition Without Creative Destruction?

Alex Ross, ArtsJournal, and the New York Sun report that Gerard Mortier, from Europe, plans in 2009-10 to stage at the New York City Opera, Olivier Messiaen's sublime Saint Francis of Assisi (designed for the Park Avenue Armory by Ilya Kabakov), The Rakes Progress, Nixon in China, Death in Venice, and Einstein on the Beach. (I see no reason for an opera company to stage the Wilson/Glass Einstein on the Beach.) Anselm Kiefer is also lined up to design one of that season's operas.

Operatic commissions have apparently also been extended to Philip Glass and to Bernice Johnson Reagon (of Sweet Honey of the Rock).

A mixed, though generally positive, beginning, in my view, in regards to the 2009-10 season. Given the similarly positive outlook at the Metropolitan National Opera, it looks like I'll have to pull out the old train timetable much more often, or move back to New York City.

(Shouldn't Anselm Kiefer have been designing contemporary operas at major world opera houses beginning 25 years ago?)

(I hope that the Metropolitan National Opera, or the Washington National Opera, will still mount Olivier Messiaen's Saint Francis of Assisi in the Daniel Libeskind production that I saw in Berlin.)

'Zim Zum' by Anselm Kiefer, 1990, acrylic, emulsion, crayon, shellac, ashes and canvas on lead, National Gallery of Art (Washington, D. C.).

Photo credit: (c) Anselm Kiefer and the National Gallery of Art. All rights reserved. With thanks. (Via Wikipedia).


Blogger JW said...

Great that contemporary and/or recent works will be done at NYCO. Now how about giving a fair shake to some composers who wrote operas that people might actually like, such as Hanson's Merry Mount, Flagello's Mirra or his St. Francis, Schreker's Der Schmied von Ghent, anything of Korngold or Zemlinsky... God, could this list go on. Nonetheless I welcome an opportunity to snooze through Einstein again.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Garth Trinkl said...

Thanks for the comment JW.

I thought that perhaps I had lost all contact with a readership!

Now, could you help out be stating exactly which opera of Korngold or Zemlinsky that you wish that NYCO would mount along with Schreker's Der Schmied von Ghent? I'd love for James Conlon to start conducting these operas, as well, at the Washington National Opera. (I was actually on the verge of ordering Egon Wellesz's Die Bakchantinnen, last night, but restrained myself for credit crunch reasons.)

Also, what do you like about Flagello's Mirra or Saint Francis? I only know Flagello's Passion of Martin Luther King, which I haven't heard in a while. I did listen to Hanson's Merry Mount, on Naxos, and while I liked parts, I think that there are other stronger American operas awaiting revival. Why aren't you, JW, blogging (under pseudonym if need be) to promote unheralded American operas? Where are the longer lists of your dream operas (like those that Henry Holland often writes)?

PS. Help me remember, if you can, who was the violinist/actor in Einstein on the Beach in 1976. I thought that it might have been Tison Street, but I can't (quickly) find a reference.

Thanks again for speaking up.

1:39 PM  
Blogger JW said...

I think NYCO would have a great success with Korngold's Die Kathrin. It's one glorious tune after another, tied to a superficially light plot, one that reveals itself to be about loss, all in the best orchestrations imaginable. Onstage cabaret band and a chanteuse and much more make for a poignant and delightful evening. Zemlinsky's Der Kreiderkreis is one that needs to be seen in the USA. I'd like to see (even hear!) Die Bakchantinnen too, but that's less likely than the above!

As for Flagello, it's the music, pure and simple. He understood drama, but his music is Shakespearean in its encompassing panoply of the human condition with its constant, nagging reminders of our ultimate, unavoidable and perhaps imminent demise. Even in an early work like Mirra it's there. To give you an example, Flagello's song The Rainy Day, words from the Wordsworth poem. he takes a simple poem about a simple day and in 3 minutes creates an existential crisis of monumental proportions. Some may object to that, but I love his treatment of the material. This is present in almost all of his works, his MLK Passion being one exception.

Maybe I'll blog one day, but I just don't think I have that much to say about music, my energies being put towards trying to make a difference within my area of expertise. Plus, it would definitely have to be under a pseudonym! if i ever get a blog I'll make a list.

I know Tison (terrific composer) but I don't know if it was he who played on Einstein. even if it is you could never get me to listen to that again.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Garth Trinkl said...

Thanks for the elaboration, JW. It is appreciated. I will think more about the Korngold (I think that I have Die Kathrin), Zemlinsky, and Flagello (and, again, about Hanson's Merry Mount. I think that if the NYCO was doing more than 10 operas a season, it could do more slightly 'archival' works like the Hanson. Of couse, NYCO should have mounted Merry Mount back when it was doing 12 or more operas a season. Also, I did go ahead and order the Wellesz Bakchantinnen, after all. It hasn't arrived.)

I agree that you should focus on your performance area of expertise.
(We can talk more about lists and guest blogging another time.)


Earlier this month, I found a program from 1976 of Tison Street joining my violin teacher, Felix Khuner, in a Berkeley recital that included the w.p. of a Tison Street work. I also recall his lush oboe concerto that the New York Phil did a half decade later. It was a little too lush for my taste. ... I'm still wondering who that was who did the "classical" violin role in the original Einstein or the reviving a half decade later.

8:25 AM  
Blogger JW said...

If you have the CPO Die Kathrin, it's a just ok performance. Notes in place but the interpretive flavor is all but missing. Try to hear the Cambria Recordings historical release of excerpts featuring the incomparable Anton Dermota. The act 3 Wanderlied is to die for.

10:25 PM  

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