About Superconductor

Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Concert Review: Astounded and Surrounded

Dream Theater plays The Astonishing in Newark.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Surrounded...by drums. Dream Theater lead singer James LaBrie sings The Astonishing.
Photo from the video of "Our New World" © 2016 Dream Theater/Roadrunner Records.
The gulf  between grand opera and heavy metal seems vast. These two genres of music commanding different audiences that are equally passionate about their artists. And yet, some intrepid bands have thrown bridges across that gulf, writing astounding rock operas that swell and surge with orchestral power and epic, complex storylines as convoluted as the grandest opera. On Wednesday night, the veteran progressive metal band Dream Theater brought their touring version of their new record The Astonishing to Prudential Hall at the New Jersey Center for Performing Arts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Opera Review: This Swiss Doesn't Miss

The Metropolitan Opera (finally) brings back Guillaume Tell.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Lone warrior: Gerald Finley as William Tell in the Met's Guillaume Tell.
Photo by Marty Sohl © 2016 The Metropolitan Opera.
It can be argued that Giacchino Rossini's Guillaume Tell is his finest score. It is a sprawling four-act portrait of the Swiss people rising up in rebellion and throwing off the yokes of their Austrian masters, full of musical invention and emotional moments that move the soul. Rigorous vocal demands and the problems of staging an opera set mostly in the Swiss Alps and featuring two boat trips and two huge storm scenes, have combined to keep Tell from the stage of the Met. The company last produced this show in 1931.

That all changed on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Superconductor Opera Guide: Cosí fan tutte

"Boys versus girls in the World Series of love.".
by Paul J. Pelkonen
A scene from Così fan tutte as staged in 2005 by the Comic Opera of Berlin.
Image © 2005 The Comic Opera of Berlin.
Cosí fan tutte  is the last of the three operas Mozart wrote in close collaboration with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. But unlike their preceding collaborations, this opera is an original story by da Ponte, its impetus coming from a phrase in their earlier Le Nozze di Figaro. The title translates loosely as "Women are like that." It comes from the longer phrase "Così fan tutte la belle", uttered by the sarcastic Don Basilio in that earlier opera. Unfortunatly for Mozart and Da Ponte, the death of Emperor Joseph II squashed enthusiasm for their new opera in Vienna, and it closed after only five performances.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Concert Review: Good Things in Small Packages

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra opens the 92nd St.Y season.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Photo © 2016 courtesy the 92nd St. Y.
The chamber orchestra, a mid-sized entity that usually operates without the gesticulation and showmanship of a conductor, is something of a throwback. Performances evoke the 18th century, before Felix Mendelssohn introduced the idea of leading with a baton and when composers, soloists and kapellmeisters in France and Germany led orchestras from the keyboard or with the bow of the first violin. On Saturday night, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra made a visit to New York, playing the opening concert of the 92nd St. Y's subscription season in the opulent and bright acoustic of Kaufmann Concert Hall.


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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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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.