Thursday, July 30, 2009

"German director Claus Guth, born in 1964 in Frankfurt, studied philosophy, German and theater studies at the University of Munich ..."

"German director Claus Guth, born in 1964 in Frankfurt, studied philosophy, German and theater studies at the University of Munich as well as theater and opera directing at the Munich Conservatory. He found major inspiration in his work with Axel Manthey in Hamburg and Stuttgart. Early on in his career, world premieres were an important part of his work: at the Munich Biennale, he directed Giorgio Battistelli’s Keplers Traum, Chaya Czernowin’s Pnima…ins Innere and Johannes Maria Staud’s Berenice; at the Salzburg Festival, he directed Luciano Berio’s Cronaca del luogo and Chaya Czernowin’s Adama combined with Mozart’s fragment Zaide; at the Semper Opera in Dresden, he oversaw the production of Peter Ruzicka’s Celan, in Basel Klaus Huber’s Schwarzerde and Helmut Oehring’s Unsichtbar Land, and in Aachen Oehring’s BlauWaldDorf. In the traditional repertoire, his work spans baroque opera from Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, which he directed in Salzburg in 2000 to great acclaim, to Mozart, Rossini, Lortzing, Verdi and Wagner to classic works of modernism, such as Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Claus Guth has been an especially frequent guest at the opera houses of Basel and Zurich – frequently in collaboration with the stage and costume designer Christian Schmidt; in Zurich, his productions have included, among others, Fierrabras, Radamisto, Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, Ariadne auf Naxos, and most recently Tristan and Isolde. In 2003, he made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival with Der fliegende Holländer, in 2005 he directed Mozart’s Lucio Silla at the Vienna Festival – his first collaboration with the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, which was continued in 2006 with the Salzburg Festival’s Le nozze di Figaro. After Don Giovanni (2008), Guth’s Mozart/Da Ponte cycle will be concluded in the summer of 2009 with Così fan tutte. During the recent seasons, Claus Guth also directed in Dresden (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), at Munich’s Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz (In mir klingt ein Lied, a “topography of operetta”), at the Bavarian State Opera (Luisa Miller), in Frankfurt (Un ballo in maschera, Il trittico) as well as in Hamburg, where he followed his Simon Boccanegra in March of 2008 by opening the Ring des Nibelungen with Das Rheingold, succeeded by Die Walküre in October 2008. In the spring of 2009, he created a staged version of Handel’s Messiah at Vienna’ s Theater an der Wien. In the 2009–2010 season, Claus Guth will make his debut at the Vienna Staatsoper with Tannhäuser."


Photo credit: Paul Celan (c) Copyright material via Wikipedia. All rights reserved.

Home Alone ... Or Papa Haydn's Armide As A Modern Opera And Papa Haydn As A Modern Opera Composer?


Dramma eroico in three acts Hob. XXVIII:2

Libretto by Nunziato Porta (?) after the anonymous libretto to Rinaldo, dramma per musica by Antonio Tozzi, based on the epos La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) by Torquato Tasso


"A mysterious sorceress from the Orient seduces a heroic Christian knight. He seems to forget military glory and his fatherland but in the end he does return to his army and intends to continue to fight against the heathens. The story of Armida and Rinaldo was set to music countless times and it fascinated poets, composers and audiences for centuries. Now as the Orient and the Occident come ever closer together with the same measure of curiosity and animosity, we again appear to be receptive for the tale from the time of the crusaders.

Haydn's opera doesn’t portray how a great love evolves and is then destroyed, but tells only of the final crisis in a relationship between two people. It describes in agonizing detail how the hero and the heroine become increasingly estranged: Rinaldo's past, the civilization he abandoned, catches up with him; Armida on the other hand is at the mercy of her love, but thereby loses herself, her identity and thus her attractiveness for Rinaldo. Thus, the dramma eroico is revealed as a chamber drama of archaic dimensions, and Haydn as a modern opera composer."

Christof Loy


Photo credit: © Monika Rittershaus 2009.

In The Shadow Of Salzburg, Bayreuth, And Lviv: Now Is The Time For European And Human Integration -- Not HATO (NATO)

Who needs the current Bayreuth Festival?


"Moldova’s pro-Western opposition parties appear to have unseated Europe’s last ruling Communist Party in repeat parliamentary elections that have become a test of whether the impoverished former Soviet republic aligns with the European Union or Moscow.

With 97 percent of the vote tabulated, the Communist Party seems to have lost the majority it held for eight years in Parliament, winning about 45 percent of the vote, Moldova’s Central Elections Commission said.

A smattering of opposition parties, loosely united in their pledge to forge stronger ties with the neighboring European Union, have vowed to form a coalition, which would give them 53 seats of the 101 seats in Parliament" ...

Michael Schwirtz "Communists Lose in Moldova Vote" New York Times July 30, 2009

Moldova GDP - per capita (PPP): $3,173 (2008 est.)

Ukraine GDP - per capita (PPP): $3,920 (2008 est.)

Austria GDP - per capita (PPP): $39,300 (2007 est.)

Germany GDP - per capita (PPP): $35,442 (2008 est.)

Photo credit: (c) Gleb Garanich/Reuters 2009. Copyright controlled.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cosi fan Tutte, Theodora, Al gran sole carico d'amore ... Zaporozhets’ Za Dunayem, Straszny dwór, Moses (European Opera In Salzburg And Lviv, Ukraine)

Salzburg Festival, Salzburg, Austria, Present-day European Union.

Lviv Opera House, Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

Lviv Opera House, Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credits: © Monika Rittershaus 2009 and © Stephen Cummiskey 2009 and © Daniel Baránek 2008.

Pan Cogito Discovers 'Digital Shakespeare' ... (And He Imagines That His Broad-Minded Thesis Advisor Derek Traversi Would Have Approved, In Part)

Unfortunately, due to the credit crunch, I could not raise the $90 in capital for the last remaining ticket to the Washington Shakespeare Theater Company's very well-received production of 'King Lear' [full text] last Saturday night, but instead I had to content myself with some fascinating digital clips from YouTube.

Digital Shakespeare: Shakespeare Theater Company

The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 'Free For All' is a much-loved Washington tradition, this year offering 21 free performances of Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew' to the public in its new, beautiful theater in the old downtown quarter of the Nation's Capital.


"In 1939, Derek Traversi obtained a post as lecturer at the British Institute in Rome, where he was arrested for apparent disrespect to Il Duce.

In Madrid, in 1944, he married Maria Concepcíon Vázquez de Castro y Sarmiento, one of the first women in Spain to graduate from a university and a pupil of his at the institute. At the age of 25, she was arrested as she travelled by train with him to a walking expedition, because Franco's laws required her to have the written permission of her father to travel any distance with an unrelated man."


The British Council in Ukraine and Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union.


Turning the Page, 3rd Annual Gala, September 12, 2009, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Washington, D.C.


The Post-Classical Ensemble -- in residence at the new Harmon Center for the Arts in downtown Washington, D.C. -- performs fine music in the context of its cultural heritage, including folk song, dance, film and contemporary popular music.


Photo credits: Copyrighted material via the Shakespeare Theater Company web-site.

Forty Years Ago Today, Pan Cogito Took Leave From The Pack

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Szymanowski Quartet And Zemlinsky Quartet To Duel On Stage Of Library Of Congress In Early November

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Karol Szymanowski on the left; Alexander von Zemlinsky on the right.

Painting by Eugene Delacroix -- Combat de chevaliers dans la campagne 1825(?), Louvre Museum. Photograph by Rama. Competition venue, Library of Congress.


Mikhail Pletnev: Yeats Song Cycle (Three Poems), for soprano and orchestra

Still Wet Ink … Vladimir Martynov’s String Quintet

Dry Ink:
"Vita Nuova" (2009)
Seraphic Visions from St. Francis of Assisi (1978) (rock opera)

Vladimir Martynov

The Russian Academy of Arts SPATIAL ICONS TEXTUALITY AND PERFORMATIVITY June 23-25, 2009

Photo credit: (c) The Russian Academy of Arts 2009.

Michael Steinberg ... A Listener's (And Composer's) Guide

Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, eighteen of Mozart's piano concertos, all the concertos of Beethoven and Brahms, and major symphonic and choral works by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Schumann, Liszt, Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Bruckner, Verdi, Mahler, Grieg, Elgar, Sibelius, Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Charles Ives, Arnold Schoenberg, Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, Alban Berg, Paul Hindemith, Sergei Prokofiev, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen, John Adams, and other contemporary classical masters.

What I know much better -- if still imperfectly -- because of Michael Steinberg, musicologist and writer.

Photo by Jorja Fleezanis. With sympathy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Renaissance Research “Conservatory Project” Quiz: Which Protagonist Do You Find Most Dramatic -- J. Robert Oppenheimer, The Minotaur, Winston Smith?

... and why?

Photo credits: (c) The Metropolitan Opera; (c) The Guardian; and (c) All copyright controlled.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Roots Of The Fear Of Singing And Of The Fear Of American Classical Music

"A final chapter considers the fears mutually and repeatedly inspired by the expressive powers of American and European song."

The Singing of the New World
Indigenous Voice in the Era of European Contact
Series: New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism (No. 15)
Gary Tomlinson
University of Pennsylvania

Rhetoric today: "I'm prettier than any cuttlefish"

sun conure



Pan Cogito Ponders Why He Did Not Join N. And The Family In Kyiv, Lviv, And The Carpathian Mountains For The Next Six Weeks

Pan Cogito tries to imagine what the upcoming world premieres of Henryk Gorecki's Symphony #4 and Ravi Shankar's new Symphony will sound like, while his colleague tries to remain focused on the current task at hand. Pan also contemplates the Oświęcim Oratorio that Henryk Gorecki began 40 years ago, but which remains unfinished.

Kyiv, Lviv, Oświęcim, and the European Carpathian mountains are all on the UNESCO World Heritage and World Biosphere list.

Photo credit: (c) Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press 2009.

Still Traumatized By American High Culture, Classical WETA CEO Sharon Rockefeller Commands For Her Subjects Another 24 Hours Of All Non-American Music

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Monica Lamontagne, Happy Rockefeller, Raymond Lamontagne, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, Joanne Woodward, and Paul Newman.

Late empire musing: Imagine if Paul Newman, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, Warren Buffet, or Bill and Melinda Gates deeply loved classical music...

Another day of absolutely new American classical music on Sharon Percy Rockefeller controlled Classical WETA/WGMS, in the Nation's Capital (Washington, D.C.)

Photo credit: © 2009 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/ Copyright controlled.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mentally Exhausted By Her American Music Month, Classical WETA's CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller Tells Staff To Restore All No-American Music Programming

Restoration!!! The Death of Virgil

ho hum ... another day of absolutely no American classical music on Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA in the Nation's Capital (Washington, D.C.).

Among the American classical and new music labels banned on Ms. Rockefeller's reprivatized WETA/WGMS:

Albany Records
Arabesque Recordings
Arsis Audio
Azica Records
BMOP Sound
Brassland Records
Bridge Records
Cambria Music
Cedille Records
Centaur Records
Cold Blue Music
Crystal Records
Deep Listening
Delos Music
Ears & Eyes Records
Einstein Records
EMF Media
ERM Media
Furious Artisans
GM Recordings
Image Recordings
Koch International Classics
Koss Classics
Lovely Music, Ltd.
Mode Records
Musica Omnia
Mutable Music
Navona Records
Neuma Records
New Albion Records
New Amsterdam Records
New Focus Recordings
New World Records
Newport Classics
North South Records
Orange Mountain
Other Minds
Peacock Recordings
Pogus Productions
Present Sounds
Quiet Design
Skirl Records
Summit Records
3Sixteen Records
Table of the Elements
XI Records

Source: NewMusicBox

Photo credit: Matt Gillis (HHV) and the New York Social Diary. © 2009 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Photo credit (top photo): (c) Associated Press 2009.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"A Man May Go Up For Seven Days In Space, But When He Returns Its The Same Old Place"

Who am I?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summertime, But The Living Still Ain't Very Easy

Woke up at 5 AM this morning after not much sleep, and listened to the opening of Thomas Ades's "The Tempest", from the Royal Opera House (London), until I fell back to sleep and dreamt about a very large white frog. I don't remember much of the Ades music, except that I played the opening phrases about a half dozen times listening to the small glissandi.

Header credit: Cope’s Gray Treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis. Via Wikipedia. With thanks. (My frog was whiter, fatter, and moister.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Add To To-Do List: Draft Strategic Plan, Benefit-Cost Studies, And Legislation For New Corporation For Public Classical Music Broadcasting

The Crucifixion, Church of Our Lady, Studenica Monastery, Serbia, Future European Union, 1209 CE. In 1986, UNESCO included Studenica monastery on the list of World Heritage Sites.

Image credit: The Tesla Memorial Society of New York. With thanks.

In Memorium, Natalia Estemirova, Human Rights Worker

'Memorial' Human Rights organization

New York Times story by Michael Schwirtz

Amnesty International

Photo credit: (c) Dylan Martinez/Reuters 2007. Copyright controlled.

The Only Opera That Pan Cogito Ever Attended With Both His Mother And His Father And The Only One With His Father

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: (c) The Packard Humanities Institute. Copyright controlled.

Pan Cogito Wants To Be A Music Critic … Or, A Not So Short Ride In A Fast Machine (The Washington National Opera Goes To Châteauville, Virginia)

"Enjoy the exclusive [sic] Castleton Farms Festival Excursion

A door-to-door service to and from the Châteauville Festival, Thursday July 16!

4:00 PM – Coach Departs from National Presbyterian Church [Washington, D.C.], hosted by a Castleton Festival Artist, champagne & refreshments on board [sic]!

6:00 PM – Buffet Supper at the Theatre House

7:00 PM – Lorin Maazel conducts Britten's The Beggar's Opera [sic]; coach returns with dessert and coffee on board!

Just $150 per person – all inclusive – call now! Available only by phone to the Washington National Opera: 866.974.0767 [Free to all music critics.]"


The U.S. Federal Reserve Board boosts outlook for overall economy in 2009 and 2010, but sees 10% unemployment in U.S. by year's end.


Bob Shingleton, are you rested enough from France to want to help me crash this party tomorrow night (N. will be working)? We could hire zonkeys for the trip or we could borrow my friend's car and horse.

"Life is 440 horsepower in a 2-cylinder engine." -- Henry Miller


Photo credits:; The London Sun; and The Flatrock Organization of New Zealand. With thanks.

Ukraine Bans "Bruno", But Not Bruno Schulz (Nor Grammy Award Winning American Classical Conductor John Mclaughlin Williams Nor VP Joe Biden)

"Ukraine has banned "Bruno," Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy about a gay Austrian fashion reporter, objecting to its scenes of nudity and homosexual sex, the culture ministry said on Wednesday.

The ex-Soviet state, where conservative views on homosexuality still prevail, had already banned "Borat," Cohen's previous satire aimed at demasking bigotry and anti-Semitism in the United States.

A culture ministry commission concluded "Bruno" included an "artistically unjustified exhibition of sexual organs and sexual relations, homosexual acts in a blatantly graphic form, obscene language, sadism, anti-social behavior which could damage the moral upbringing of our citizens."" ...

Reuters "Ukraine Bans "Bruno" For Nudity, Gay Sex" New York Times July 15, 2009


Bruno Schulz

Ukraine has welcomed warmly Grammy Award winning American classical conductor John Mclaughlin Williams.

Vice-President Joe Biden will visit Ukraine next week.


Photo credits: (c) Eliesha Nelson and (c) Universal Pictures. Copyrights controlled.

Pan Cogito As A Supernumerary In American Operatic History; Or, Has Placido Domingo Failed In His Duty To The WNO; (Or, Where Is Pan Cogito Now?)

Porgy and Bess is not the only American opera based upon the African-American experience. Can you name five American classical operas based upon the African-American experience?

The Washington National Opera

"Maestro Domingo defined his general plans for his seasons. “Every year there should ideally be some Verdi, some Puccini, an American work and a rarity.” He added German opera and Mozart to that list and called commitment to American opera “a duty.”"

Has Placido Domingo failed in this duty to the Washington National Opera over the past several years?


Photo credit: (c) Dreamworks. Copyright controlled.


Anna Julia Cooper

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

With Russian archives opened, McNamara recognised that the Cuban crisis had brought the world much closer to annihilation than Kennedy had understood

Photo credit: (c) Stephen DeStaebler. Copyright controlled.

Bastille Day Edition: While Awaiting Slow Birth Of Washington National Opera, Pan Cogito Checks Out New Post-Bastille Operas In Birmingham And Paris

Rufus Wainwright "Prima Donna" (in the Canadian-American-British corner)

Anselm Kiefer's and Jörg Widmann's “Am Anfang” (“In the Beginning”) (in the Continental Old European corner)

FREE Bastille matinee today of "Am Anfang" at the Paris Opera at 4 PM !!!


Photo credits: (c) Clive Barda via the New York Times 2009. Copyright controlled; and (c) Charles Duprat for the Opéra national de Paris 2009. Copyright controlled.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hint To Last Tuesday's "American Classical Operatic Culture In The Shadow Of Michael Jackson" Quiz

Photo credit: (c) Dreamworks 1997. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.

(Please note the beautiful historical and architectural detail.)


Lyric Opera of Chicago

Washington National Opera

New World Records: the Recorded Anthology of American Music

Thursday, July 09, 2009

More On Ivan Mazepa, Ukraine, Russia, Sweden, Poland And Old And New Europe As Post-1989 Renaissance Proceeds Despite Current Economic Slowdown

"Lord Byron, Pushkin, and Victor Hugo wrote poems about him. Liszt composed a symphonic work in his honor, Tchaikovsky devoted an opera to him, and Gericault painted him tied naked to a horse. In centuries past he was a historical superstar --a poster child for the Romantic era.

His name was Ivan Mazepa, a Ukrainian Cossack chieftain who allied with Sweden's Charles XII to fight Russia's Czar Peter the Great at the Battle of Poltava, 300 years ago this week.

The swashbuckling subject of Romantic-era adulation is once again attracting attention, this time as the subject of a dispute over history between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine. In the eyes of the Russian state and its propagandists, Mazepa is Public Enemy No. 1 -- a turncoat who betrayed Peter the Great, Orthodox Christianity and the unity of Slavic peoples. Most Russian historians have judged Mazepa a traitor.

Acting under the instruction of Czar Peter, the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated him and placed an anathema on him, and still vilifies him in annual Poltava services. In turn, many Ukrainian historians regard Mazepa as an honored fighter for Ukraine's statehood.

President Viktor Yushchenko extols Mazepa as a heroic precursor of Ukraine's independence and his image is emblazoned on the 10 hryvnia note ($1.30).

Passions over Mazepa have not been as heated in three centuries as this year. In recent days, amid ceremonies, costumed reenactments, conferences and television programs on the Poltava battle, Russian demonstrators have burned him in effigy.

Ukrainian patriots rallied in Poltava on June 27 and unfurled a 30-meter by 45-meter Ukrainian flag in his honor. And a security force of nearly 1,000 has been deployed in Poltava and successfully staved off conflicts between the two sides." ...

Adrian Karatnycky and Alexander J. Motyl "WHY IS RUSSIA AFRAID OF A 300-YEAR-OLD UKRAINIAN HERO?" The Wall Street Journal July 9, 2009

Photo credits: Still from Yuri Illienko’s 2002 film "A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa (Molytva za Hetmana Mazepu)" and (c) Society for Historical Archeology 2007. With thanks.

In The Shadows Of The G-8 Meeting: The Highly Important World Matters Of H1N1 And Butyrospermum Parkii

[Click on images for enlargement.]

H1N1 ("Swine Flu")

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Nut)

Spencer Hsu and Michael D. Shear "Administration Focuses on Swine Flu Preparedness" Washington Post July 9, 2009

World Bank Africa Development Indicators 2008/09

Photo credit: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Marco Schmidt via Wikipedia. With thanks.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pan Cogito Solemnly Commemorates The 300th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Poltava