Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Messiaen’s St-François d’Assise at the Nederlandse Opera

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

St-François d’Assise

Opera in three Acts and eight Scenes

Libretto and Music by Olivier Messiaen

A New Production of the Nederlandse Opera
Première Performance of 1 June 2008
Het Musiktheater, Amsterdam

Musical Direction: Ingo Metzmacher
Director: Pierre Audi
Sets and Lighting: Jean Kalman
Costumes Angelo Figus
Video: Ervan Huon
Dramaturge: Klaus Bertisch
Choral Director: Martin Wright
Resident Orchestra and Choir of the Nederlandse Opera

L’ange: Camilla Tilling
Saint François: Rod Gilfry
Le lépreux: Hubert Delamboye
Frère Léon: Henk Neven
Frère Massée: Tom Randle
Frère Élie: Donald Kaasch
Frère Bernard: Armand Arapian
Frère Sylvestre: Jan Willem Baljet
Frère Rufin: André Morsch

an account by KEN QUANDT

The saints have shown us many ways to live a perfect life. Yet somehow the lesson we tend to come away with is that the saints are special, rather than their lives. We know they would not have it this way, that they want us to know and to use what they have learned in our own lives rather than idolize them; and we know this because this is what their lives and actions always teach us. Therefore we need to be told their lives over and over again. Saint Francis is a perfect case. As we come to know him, we are stunned by his humility – not because we wish we were less proud, but because his humility, as it is described by the stories of his life, is so credible.

“Parsifal” at the Bastille

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008


a stage-consecrating festival play in three acts

Music and Libretto by Richard Wagner

Paris Opera at Bastille
Performance of 17 March 2008

Musical Direction: Hartmut Hänchen
Mise en Scène: Krzysztof “Buy-a vowel” Warlikowski
Sets and Costumes: Malgorzata Szczesniak
Lighting: Felice Ross
Video: Denis Gueguin

Director: Miron Hakenbeck
Choral Director: Winfried Maczewski

A New Production

Gurnemanz: Franz Joseph Selig
Kundry: Waltraud Meier
Amfortas: Alexander Marco-Buhrmester
Parsifal: Stig Anderson (for Christopher Ventris)
Titurel: Victor von Halem
Orchestra and Choruses of the Paris Opera

an account by KEN QUANDT

Like the Grail, this is an opera that only feeds the watcher who delights in the good. As such it should be less popular than it is, but the music is so beautiful it will never disappear from the repertoire. Thus, it presents a challenge to music lovers and opera lovers: Find the good.

Q Review: “Pelleas et Melisande” at Covent Garden

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Pelléas et Mélisande

an opera in five acts

Music by Claude Debussy
Libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck

Royal Opera House at Covent Garden
Performance of 21 May 2007

Conductor: Simon Rattle
Director: Stanislas Nordey
Set Designer: Emmanuel Clolus
Costume Designer: Raoul Fernandez
Lighting: Philippe Berthomé

A co-production with the Salzburg Easter Festival

Mélisande: Angelika Kirchschlager
Golaud: Gerald Finley
Arkel: Robert Lloyd
Pelléas: Simon Keenlyside

an account by KEN QUANDT


subscribe to the Q review

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

the Q review is now available as an RSS feed to which you can subscribe. If you’re already familiar with RSS, you know that a feed subscription – in your browser, your mail program, or a program created specifically for RSS – will keep an eye out for Ken’s reviews and fetch them for you whenever a new one appears. And if you weren’t already familiar with RSS, well, now you are – and Google Reader is one easy way to get started.

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Q review: “Recovered Voices” at the LA Opera

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Recovered Voices

Recovering a Musical Heritage
The Music Suppressed by the Third Reich

LA Opera – James Conlon, Musical Director
March 7 (Première Performance)
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

an account by KEN QUANDT


new Q reviews

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Our oft-roving reviewer Q is off on another cross-country opera trip. The first two reviews are now up:

Glass’s “Illusionist” score

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

One reason to see The illusionist, apart from the reliable pleasure of watching Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti at work, is to hear Philip Glass’s score. He shows he can do an effective evocation of Vienna (or in this case Prague-standing-in-for-Vienna) while retaining all the signatures of his style. Staying close to conventional becomes a virtue in this case – it’s effective, doesn’t get in the way, and pretty much just works. Think Peer Gynt, a century & change later.

Q review of Saariaho’s Adriana Mater

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

Q’s review of the Saariaho world première at the Bastille is up . . .

david amram aetatis lxxv

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Sometimes it seems as though everyone who came into contact with Leonard Bernstein turned to gold. David Amram turns 75 today; you can find plenty about him at his home page, in his books Vibrations and Offbeat: collaborating with Jack Kerouac (some reviews here – don’t miss the “sidebar” on “Experiencing Amram”). I’ll just mention two things:

If one has to name genuine landmarks in the realm of movie scores, and is limited to the fingers of one hand, it would be hard to avoid naming, say, Prokofiev’s collaboration with Eisenstein on Aleksandr Nevsky. Seems to me you’d have to include a Bernard Herrmann Hitchcock score – but which one? And it also seems, to me at least, that Schoenberg’s expressive Accompaniment to a cinema scene would actually have to go on the list, not that it ever accompanied a cinema scene, but because Arnie’s conception of such music is to this day the predominant one: audiences still absurdly recoil from his music in the concert hall, then the next evening heartily applaud action adventures or thrillers or even routine comedies and romances with scores that are essentially Schoenberg music. But come up with your own list of scores. In any case, David Amram’s for The Manchurian candidate may be the most remarkable ever written for a motion picture with a large audience. It’s huge – a durchkomponiert tour de force. Rent the movie – hear and see for yourself.

Second, Amram’s 1971 double LP for RCA Victor (rereleased on CD by Rounder) gave this program its name. The title? No more walls.

So thank you, David Amram. May you flourish for many more years.

the Q review is up

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

The reviews that Ken Quandt has published here so far are now collected on the Q review page. Format’s still a little funky, but Ken most definitely is not: check out the only substantial review you’re likely to see – at least for a decade or two – of the big noise out of San Francisco, the SF Opera’s recent production of the John Adams / Peter Sellars Doctor Atomic. Special bonus: Ken’s producer’s diary of our Chicago Ring fest.