Opera in NYC: Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera

Opera in NYC: Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera

Grand spectacle of legendary tale of pride, revenge, and love

Opera Turandot at Metropolitan Opera Lincoln Center NYC
Turandot poster by Mushii, 1926 via Wikimedia Commons

The timeless story of a cold and proud Chinese princess claiming her superiority over every contender for her heart is richly staged in this historic Franco Zefferelli  production from 1987 of the last masterpiece by Giacomo Puccini. The cast at the Met Opera includes Oksana Dyka and Martina Serafin in the title role, Marcelo Alvarez as Prince Calaf with Carlo Rizzi and Marco Armiliato conducting. Opulent orchestration, inclusion of the uncommon musical instruments in the score, innovative use of chorus and ballet are all part of this grand spectacle of pride, revenge, and love.

The creation of this opera is a tale in itself. Puccini first came across this subject after reading F. Schiller’s translation into German of Carlo Gozzi’s  play with the same title. Gozzi’s play, in turn, was based on one of “The Seven Beauties” fables by Nizami, 12th-century Persian poet renowned for his narrative poems and lyrical verses. “The Seven Beauties” plot ties together time (days of the week), colors (each story is given a color) and action. The cold and independent daughter of a king of Turan, Turandokht, was the story of the first day told under the red dome. Another version has it that Gozzi’s play Turandot was inspired by the fairy tales Les Mille et un Jours (1722) by François Pétis de la Croix  from the original version in Persian. 

Opera Turandot at Metropolitan Opera Lincoln Center NYC
Marcelo Álvarez as Calàf in Puccini’s Turandot. Photo by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

But it doesn’t stop there. When Puccini started his work on the opera in 1920, he received a Chinese music box as a gift from Italy’s former ambassador to China. The box played several Chinese songs three of which were included in the score of the opera and ultimately transformed the action to a legend time China. It is not surprising that the leitmotif for Turandot is the folk melody “Mo Li Hua“.

Puccini was so immersed in this project that his librettists Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni  couldn’t keep up and were behind with the text. By March 1924 the score was almost completed up to the finale. But Puccini wasn’t happy with the verses for the final duet so the librettists continued writing until October of that year. Puccini’s sudden death from a heart attack on November 29, 1924, left the music unfinished and was eventually completed by an Italian composer Franco Alfano. The premiere took place at La Scala, Milan, on Sunday 25 April 1926.

Starting from 1926 Turandot is successfully performed at every opera house around the world. In China, the opera has entered the regular repertoire only in 1998 when it was performed for the first time under the title of Turandot at the Forbidden City.
The third act of the opera starts with Nessun Dorma, one of the most recognizable arias memorably popularized by Luciano Pavarotti among other artists. While an unforgettable recording of Turandot with Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti with Zubin Mehta conducting is available, nothing can beat the live performance at the Met Opera!

With the NewYorkPass your can enjoy a free tour of the historic Lincoln Center and much more.

 

 

Opera Turandot at Metropolitan Opera Lincoln Center NYC
Oksana Dyka in the title role of Puccini’s “Turandot.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

 

 

Dates and Discounted Tickets with the code TICKETS3:  

Saturday, October 21,                                       

Wednesday, October 25,                                   

Saturday, October 28,                                   

Tuesday, October 31,                                   

Saturday, November 04,                                   

Wednesday, November 08,                                   

Saturday, November 11,                                   

Thursday, November 16,                                   

Wednesday, March 21,                                    

Saturday, March, 24,                                   

Wednesday, March 28,                                   

Saturday, March 31,                                   

Thursday, April 05

 

Venue: Met Opera, Lincoln Center, NY       

Music in NYC: Marc-Andre Hamelin at Carnegie Hall

Music in NYC: Marc-Andre Hamelin at Carnegie Hall

Keyboard Virtuoso Exploring the Music of Romantic Masters

Piano recital Marc-Andre Hamelin Carnegie Hall November 2017
Marc-André Hamelin; Photo credit Sim Canetti-Clarke / Image courtesy of Carnegie Hall

Marc-Andre Hamelin returns to Carnegie Hall this Fall with an exciting and evocative program of Liszt, Feinberg, Debussy and Godowsky. The recital on November 1, 2017 at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium will feature the compositions by the well-known and lesser so yet equally formidable composers. That music has to be brought to the wide public and Hamelin is in the best position for the task.

By now the music fans are already expecting an exploration of the treasure trove of half-forgotten compositions at Hamelin’s performances. As a WBUR.org review  notes “he unearths, polishes and returns forgotten talent to prominence”. And the program on November 1 will not disappoint. Knowing the musician’s sensible touch and technical virtuosity, the music will surprise and delight at the same time.

Piano recital Marc-Andre Hamelin Carnegie Hall November 2017
Carnegie Hall; photo credit Jeff Goldberg / Esto / Image courtesy of Carnegie Hall

Marc-Andre Hamelin whose fame grows with each performance, is not only a brilliant pianist, but is a well-known composer. It’s extremely fascinating to hear music by the composer himself, which Mr. Hamelin sometimes includes in the encores at his concerts. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune the musician shared his believe that composing brings one closer to understanding how “each composer translated his thoughts into that notation”.

Hamelin records with Hyperion label and his discography by now counts more than 70 albums. His latest album Feldman: For Bunita Markus was released in July, 2017.  For his superior recordings he was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in June 2015.

His appearance at Carnegie Hall last year at the Two Pianos concert with Leif Ove Andsnes was given rave reviews.

Piano recital Marc-Andre Hamelin Carnegie Hall November 2017With the NewYorkPass your can enjoy a free tour of the historic Carnegie Hall and much more.

Book your tickets with discount code TICKETS3 here.

Date: November 1, 2017

Venue: Carnegie Hall, 57th Street, NY      Directions to Carnegie Hall

Dance in NYC: Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at White Light Festival

Dance in NYC: Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at White Light Festival

Jessica Lang Dance with Orchestra of St. Luke’s in Stabat Mater on November 1-2, 2017

Pergolesi's Stabat Mater at Lincoln Center White Light Festival in NY
Jessica Lang’s production of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater / Photo credit: Karli Cadel / Image courtesy of Glimmerglass Festival

White Light Festival presents a New York premiere of Jessica Lang Dance company production of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater on November 1-2, 2017. This year the festival is focusing on faith and its humanistic inspirations. Sacred music of Psalms is a perfect medium to highlight the sorrow, compassion, and hope for redemption and peace. Pergolesi’s delicate and sensitive music in Stabat Mater is being masterfully combined with the fluidity and lightness of movements by Jessica Lang’s dancers.

Pergolesi was born Giovanni Battista Draghi in Jesi, Italy which at the time was part of Papal States. Because his family was originally from Pergola, he was given a nickname of Pergolesi which was a common practice at the time.

Pergolesi's Stabat Mater at Lincoln Center White Light Festival in NY
Counter Tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo performing in Jessica Lang’s production of Stabat Mater / Photo credit: Karli Cadel / Image courtesy of Glimmerglass Festival

Pergolesi is best known for his sacred opus Stabat Mater which was finished in 1736 right before the composer’s death from tuberculosis at age 26. The piece was written for an annual meditation on Good Friday in honor of the Virgin Mary. Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater had replaced the score by A. Scarlatti. Sacred psalms were not the only musical genre favored by the composer. Pergolesi’s operatic works made strong influence on his contemporaries and helped to establish the wide popularity of opera buffa. His operas were performed in Naples, Rome as well as Paris where they resulted in some tensions between those who preferred a more serious style over the new winds of theatrical productions.

Pergolesi's Stabat Mater at Lincoln Center White Light Festival in NY The original music score for Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater was composed for soprano and alto soloists, violin I and II, viola and basso continuo (cello and organ). The recoding by London Symphony Orchestra with Claudio Abbado conducting is considered a staple of the sacred music genre.

So powerful is the music of Pergolesi that it made a place for itself in the modern world of movies and films. One of them, Farinelli (1994), a highly acclaimed Italian/French movie, was awarded the best foreign language film at the Golden Globe in 1995 and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category.

Jessica Lang and her dance company had premiered this production of Stabat Mater at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in 2013. The lightness of the company dancers’ movements and the melting of gestures to the music are the hallmarks of this company style. They blend incredibly well with the delicate voices carrying the melody making a natural extension of the music projecting it into space. 
New York City Pass

White Light Festival is being presented by the Lincoln Center. With the NewYorkPass your can enjoy a free tour of the historic Lincoln Center and much more. The New York Times calls the White Light Festival “the psalms bonanza” presenting “a dozen concerts featuring 1,000 years of music by composers including Bach, Handel, Telemann and Arvo Pärt”.

Book your tickets here.

VenueRose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, NY

Dates: November 1-2, 2017

 

 

Art in NYC: Robert Motherwell Exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Art in NYC: Robert Motherwell Exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Early Paintings

Chelsea Art Gallery NYC exhibition Robert Motherwell paintings
Robert Motherwell, La Belle Mexicaine, 1941;
©Dedalus Foundation, Inc./ Licensed by VAGA / Image courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

This well-researched exhibition at Paul Kasmin gallery in Chelsea presents the early works by an American abstract expressionist artist Robert Motherwell . The show includes 18 works from 1941 to 1951 when the artist was actively searching for his style and its meaning. In 1941 he started studying studio art at Columbia University after pursuing a PhD degree in philosophy at Harvard. Building up on his interest in modernist writings and poetry, he turned to the visual arts while traveling to Europe in the late 1930s. His other influences were from the exiled surrealists leaving in New York City at that time such as Max Ernst, Duchamp, Masson. In particular, an idea of letting out the unconscious through the process of “automatic” drawing made a considerable effect on Motherwell and was further developed in his later works alternating between figurative and abstract images.

Chelsea Art Gallery NYC exhibition Robert Motherwell paintings
Robert Motherwell, The Figures, 1941, ©Dedalus Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA / Image courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

His travels to Mexico City in 1941 brought him in contact with a Chilean painter Roberto Matta, another promoter of abstract expressionism. The works made at the time of that trip, La Belle Mexicane (Maria) and Three Figures are included in the exhibition and are on public view for the first time.

Another strong influence apparent in the selection of works on view is by Piet Mondrian, the founder of De Stijl movement who had his first exhibition in New York in 1942. The minimalism of De Stijl style adapted to convey the sorrows from the Spanish Civil War can be seen in The Sentinel (1942), Recuerdo de Coyoacán (1942) and The Spanish Prison (Window) (1943-1944). It is well documented that the Spanish Civil War made a huge impact on Motherwell. His cycle of paintings Elegy to the Spanish Republic is now at the Guggenheim museum. Robert Motherwell’s book with the same title gives more ground to the subject of the cycle.

Chelsea Art Gallery NYC exhibition Robert Motherwell paintings
Robert Motherwell, The Sentinel, ©Dedalus Foundation, Inc./ Licensed by VAGA / Image courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

The works from the later years in the current show are turning more to abstract with an idea of automatic painting getting into action. At that time the artist also started experimenting with collages on paper and became known for his innovative style in the medium. An expose Robert Motherwell: Early Collages covers 60 works from that period.

The gallery is open Tue – Sat, 10am – 6pm

Venue: 293 Tenth Avenue, NY                    Dates: September 07 – October 28, 2017

Beyond NY: Jazz Music for Two Pianos with Fred Hersch and Sullivan Fortner

Beyond NY: Jazz Music for Two Pianos with Fred Hersch and Sullivan Fortner

Catskill Jazz Factory brings great music to Bard College 

This partnership of two great pianists is promising to make a delightful night full of fresh perspectives on contemporary jazz. Each musician brings a distinct style and artistic excellence while being true the roots of his style. Merging these two creative personalities playing the music of Fred Hersh, Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter and others is not an easy fit. But it will surely be refreshing and exciting. 

double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017
Fred Hersch / Photo credit Vincent Soyez

Fred Hersch is a celebrated figure on the international jazz scene. He came to fame in 1984 when he debuted with Horizons. His very elegant style of introspective and emotionally rich music is gaining in its depth with each appearance and recording. His trio with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson enjoys a fruitful collaboration and maintains a demanding live performance and recording schedule. The New York Times review of the trio performance at the Vanguard back in 2012 described their style as “the incremental stretch toward an elusive ideal”.
double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017A celebrated pianist and a bandleader, Hersch is also a well-known composer and jazz educator. Being nominated for ten Grammy awards, the last two in 2017, and named a 2016 Doris Duke Artist puts Hersch at the top of the list of contemporary jazz musicians. His very personal story of near-death health crisis, a remarkable come-back and an openness about his experiences all contribute to his very distinct status among the musicians. A profile in the WallStreetJournal by Ted Gioia calls this return to life “a miracle” which brought Hersch music to the level “that doesn’t get any better than this”. Hirsch’s latest album Open Book was released in September 2017.

double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017
Sullivan Fortner / Image source sullivanfortnermusic.com

Sullivan Fortner, a 2015 Cole Porter Jazz Fellow with the American Pianists Association, brings in the vibe of his generation to this fascinating partnership. Also a leader of his own band, The Sullivan Fortner Trio, who are performing extensively, Fortner had played with vibraphonist Stefon Harris and the trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Etienne Charles and toured with major jazz collectives of today.
double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017Graduating from Oberlin Music Conservatory with bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies and master’s from Manhattan School of Music, Fortner is recognized for his youthful energy mixed with the disciplined maturity.  A review in the New York Times of his “Aria” album release stresses that “his fundamentals as a player could hardly be stronger”.

The concert at Richard B. Fischer Center for Performing Arts at Bard College located on a picturesque campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY is organized by an innovative educational and performance art community the Catskill Jazz Factory. Bard College is well-known for its rigorous art education program and the best in class roster of music performances in upstate NY. Only two hours away from hustle and bustle of New York City, the campus is sufficiently insulated for full concentration and study, yet affords a convenience of being accessible via train connection to the city.

The Richard B. Fisher Center is an architectural jewel in itself being designed by Frank Gehry and hosting a multitude of adventurous programs at the world-class facilities.

Book the tickets  here.

Venue: Richard B. Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Dates: October 7, 2017

Places to eat around Bard College.