Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, since 2007. All written content © 2015 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Opera Review: An Old-Fashioned Wedding

Juilliard Opera stages Le Nozze di Figaro.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Shenanigans: The Count (Takio Onishi, center) confronts Susanna (Ying Fang, right)
as Cherubino (Virginie Verrez) looks on. Photo by Ken Howard © 2015 The Juilliard School.
On Friday night, Juilliard Opera opened its last production of the spring season, a Stephen Wadsworth staging of Le Nozze di Figaro with a stellar young cast and a staging approach that was refreshingly true to the opera's text. This is the third (and final) Mozart/Da Ponte opera to be mounted by Mr. Wadsworth at Juilliard on the stage of the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. With designer Charlie Corcoran, he continues to rely on simple multi-proscenium sets, period costumes, lots of stage action, and young singing actors thoroughly steeped in performance tradition.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Concert Review: The Odd Couple

Dorothea Röschmann and Mitsuko Uchida at Carnegie Hall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Pianist Mitsuko Uchida (left) and soprano Dorothea Röschmann.
Original photo of Dorothea Roschmann  © Sony Classical. Photo of Ms. Uchida by Justin Pumfrey © Universal Music Group.
Photo alteration by the author because it's nice to have them in the same picture.
Every once in a while in this business you get to see something unique. That happened on Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall, when soprano Dorothea Röschmann gave a lieder recital accompanied by a world-class pianist: Mitsuko Uchida. It is unusual to hear an internationally known virtuoso and a regular touring visitor to Carnegie Hall with a vast repertory in the role of accompanist, but the pairing proved inspired.  The evening, a stop on the artists' current North American tour, featured art songs by Robert Schumann and Alban Berg, in a concert that made the cavernous Stern Auditorium seem intimate and warm despite the crowd in attendance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Metropolitan Opera Preview: The Rake's Progress

Stravinsky's searing morality tale returns for just three performances.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Jumping the shark: Stephanie Blythe (center) is bearded lady Baba the Turk
in The Rake's Progress. Photo by Jack Vartoogian © 2014 The Metropolitan Opera.
The last Met production of the season is the company's revival of a 20th century classic. Jonathan Miller production of Stravinsky's opera stars Juilliard-trained tenor Paul Appleby (Two Boys) in the title role.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Concert Review: American Nightmares

Two major new works at the NY PHIL BIENNIAL.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
"Breaker boys" are featured in Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields.
Photo from the Anthracite Heritage Museum.
Editor's Note: In honor of Julia Wolfe winning the Pulitzer for her piece Anthracite Fields, we are we are re-posting this review of its New York premiere from last year. Congratulations  to Ms. Wolfe!

In Pennsylvania's coal country, the borough of Centralia stands abandoned, due to an underground coal fire that forced citizens to flee the once-thriving municipality. Last week, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL unveiled two works that reminded one of that abandoned town: Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields and Steven Mackey's Dreamhouse. In their own way, each composition illustrates the dangers of the American dream, whether in the forced labor and brutal conditions of the coal mines or the uncertainty and terror of the decade following the collapse of the World Trade Center.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.