UPDATE: It seems I’ve confused my most loyal supporters (Hi mom and dad!) I’m attending the ACO family concert on Saturday, not performing in it. My toddler, on the other hand, will most likely lift her voice with the performers.
Imagine spending most of your waking hours with someone who finds wonder in everything. Someone who lingers at her reflection in a doorknob, delights in tossing about laundry, and marvels at sparrows feeding in the snow. This perspective, and the cozy companionship, sparks your own creative impulses, as you re-examine the quotidian for the miraculous.
Parenthood creates a hunger for art.
The paradox of course lies in the practicalities. A busy schedule of doorknob-gazing and laundry-tossing leaves little room for concertgoing or story writing or painting (using non-edible paint) or whatever creative outlet you’d like. There are plenty of opportunities for arts education experiences for children, but few are truly satisfying for adults.
Enter the American Classical Orchestra, with bells and trumpets. Literally, I believe. They have anointed March as HANDELFEST, and are starting the festivities with a family friendly concert next Saturday on March 1.
Tfoldecho’s first discount offer! Use the discount code “BlogNY” at OperaLafayette.org to receive a generous 20% off tickets to the American premiere of Les Femmes Vengées, a 1775 opera by Philidor that inspired Mozart and DaPonte’s Così, written in 1789. It’s a double bill of a shortened, French-language version of the Mozart, followed by the final scenes from Les Femmes. As the company explains, “A mirror image of Così’s plot, Les Femmes Vengées continues the story of the four fickle lovers, but this time it’s the women who humorously uncover their husband’s infidelities.”
Only one New York performance before this good looking production is off to Versailles. Opera Lafayette and Artistic Director Ryan Brown are devoted to unearthing gems from 18th Century French Opera, and I find their work always to be worthwhile.
That said, 19th Century French Opera is a bit like 19th Century French dessert: exquisite, elaborate, perhaps a bit fussy, and sweet. There may be a reason why this opera is only coming to US shores now. Honestly, I’d take some aching 17th Century Venetian harmonies first, but in small portions (like these two truncated operas), French opera is a deserved indulgence from time to time. It’s the aural equivalent of the Boucher room at the Frick, if that’s your thing.
Here is an excerpt I found from Les Femmes, as sung by Christiane Eda-Pierre. Try a taste and come to Opera Lafayette for more on Thursday!
Time for ye old annual post of the best way to ring in the New Year: Tennyson’s Ring Out Wild Bells from his dirge to a close friend, In Memoriam, A. H. H., as set to women’s voices by the British composer Andrew Downes. Listen to it hear, or make your own music by declaiming it yourself. Welcome 2014!
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Buried in the spilled ink about the death of Nelson Mandela last week was a mention in the Times of South African hip-hop artist HHP. His song, Harembe, explores the disconnect between the country’s born frees, who never knew apartheid, and the older generation, which fought to end it. He is joined by the Young Voices South Africa Choir, which following the general form of hip-hop, repeats the song’s only melodic phrase over and over again.
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, South Africa sort of has a musical heritage that is pretty darn rich, so to me it is disappointing that American style hip-hop should have such a foothold there. Yes, the struggle of African-Americans influenced the struggle against apartheid, so it’s a natural extension that the two cultures should cross pollinate. But when it comes to hip-hop, other forces are at work.
Thus, the reception of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys at the Met could be described as classical music acting like pop, with predictable results…
The praise and pans are in for Nico Muhly’s premiere of ‘Two Boys’ at the Met. The company’s long-awaited commission is one of the higher profile attempts to reach a new audience, a noble effort that unfortunately has been attempted many times before. When a performer or composer from outside of classical music is engaged to work with a classical institution, one of two things happen. 1) the star’s fan base comes out for the performance(s) but never returns to hear anything else again, or 2) the fan base doesn’t come out, and neither do mainstay audiences. In this case, despite efforts to promote the premiere among the people who might not normally come to opera but might like Muhly, Williamsburgers saw no need to trek up to the Met when they could download him at home.
Another part of the problem might have been simple. The music was not very good. Continue reading