Season opening news from all over
Many people were at the Metropolitan Opera last night for the opening-night production of "Das Rheingold."
Manuela Hoelterhoff was there for Bloomberg News.
Anthony Tommasini was there for The New York Times.
Mike Silverman was there for the AP.
The Guardian sent Ed Pilkington.
And The Wall Street Journal took note of a technical malfunction in the final scene.
Edited to add: Let's not forget James Jorden in the New York Post.
Edited to add: Or Martin Bernheimer in the Financial Times. Sorry, Martin.
Even James Levine was there to conduct, which had been a subject of much speculation beforehand.
Me, I was unavoidably detained at the last minute to work on something else, so I will have to weigh in at a later date.
To judge from the above, the consensus so far is modified rapture.
The other big opening I missed recently (again compelled to choose between Plácido Domingo and something else), was Riccardo Muti's debut as music director of the Chicago Symphony last Thursday. All the critics seemed extremely excited about that. Here's word from the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Classical Review.
(read more after the jump)
The New York Philharmonic's season-opening news is less celebratory -- or maybe it is. First, there was the announcement that the Republic of Georgia had cancelled the two planned concerts of the orchestra's upcoming tour at the last minute for lack of money. Seems there wasn't a signed contract. Within a few days, it was announced that the orchestra's president, Zarin Mehta, will leave at the end of the 2011-12 season. That is, he has two more years. (These "step down" announcements in the music world have a whiff of anticlimax when it emerges that the person who has "resigned" is actually sticking around for months and months to come.)
One opening I did see, while I was in California, was the first program of the Pacific Symphony's season (actually, I saw it on Friday, the second night). The Pacific Symphony is a still-new orchestra (this is its 32nd season), and pays its players by the service rather than an annual salary, so I was thinking "regional," but Friday's concert happily outstripped expectations (the elegant, still-new Segerstrom Concert hall didn't hurt). What I heard was a good, sound, bright orchestra with a lot of zip, thanks in part to the energetic conductor Carl St. Clair. Most striking: everyone appeared to be having fun. Jon Kimura Parker played a very respectable Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto, and by the end he had actually risen from his seat as if carried away by the excitement, bounding up to the conductor with a huge grin on his face. There followed a rich, lovely Brahms Second, and though I had to drive back to L.A. to catch an early plane, I couldn't tear myself away. I left musing on whether being free of a long tradition and the weight of expectations helped confer a certain lightness on the performance; there was a quality of excitement about the whole evening, an idea that something really worthwhile had happened, that I don't always get at orchestral concerts. Brahms may not be "fun" per se, but there's something to be said for playing it as if you were excited about playing it. (My colleague Tim Mangan, in the Orange County Register, who of course knows the orchestra far better than I, was less thrilled.)
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