13 March 2013
Better Know a Bach Soloist: Eric Owens
Bass-baritone Eric Owens is no stranger to Avery Fisher Hall. In addition to starring in John Adams’s opera A Flowering Tree in the hall as part of the 2009 Lincoln Center Festival, he sang with the Philharmonic twice in Alan Gilbert’s inaugural season, both as the bass-baritone soloist in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, and as Nekrotzar, the personification of Death itself, in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre. (Admittedly, his concert attire for the latter was much more fun.)
Eric has also made headlines next door in The Metropolitan Opera’s new Ring Cycle. “The chief glory of this production is Eric Owens’s performance as Alberich,” wrote Alex Ross for The New Yorker, while The New York Times dubbed him “an Alberich for the ages.” He takes a break from Wagner to sing Bach’s B-minor Mass with us starting tonight; catch a preview of him in a less gesamtkunstwerk-y setting with his rendition of Mozart’s “Per questa bella mano” above, accompanied by the Handel and Haydn Society.
21 August 2012
Ouch, Brain Freeze!
The Philharmonic’s anticipation of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, which found Music Director Alan Gilbert hanging out with his pal Death, gets a nod in The Future of Opera roundtable discussion and podcast on NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog, as a example of how to create audience excitement for newer works. As countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who sang in the 2010 production, recalls: “Even the scalpers couldn’t get tickets. … It was a real rock concert atmosphere.”
The magic returns this June when Alan Gilbert will again team up with Doug Fitch, the director/designer of the Ligeti production, for a theatrical presentation of Stravinsky ballets, starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns.
27 April 2012
One Surreal Game-Changer
Gyorgy Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre gets a nod as NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog surveys the opera landscape for game-changingl postwar works. The black comedy shows Ligeti’s dramatic sense of humor from the first note: “The piece, although not performed often, seems to be a success whenever it shows up, as was the case when it became the hit of the New York Philharmonic’s 2009-10 season.”
Take another walk through the Philharmonic’s hit production of Ligeti’s “anti-anti-opera” here.
14 April 2011
Want to win big at the Philharmonic?
The #Operaplot Contest is back on Twitter, and this year, the New York Philharmonic has decided to get in on the action. Offer your best summary of any opera plot in one tweet, and you could win tickets to hear Deborah Voigt at Avery Fisher Hall, June 9–11, or the Philharmonic’s highly-anticipated staged production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, June 22–25.
More on how Operplot Works: It’s pretty simple. Participants summarize the plot of any opera in a tweet, leaving enough room for the #operaplot hashtag. There are five main winners, to be chosen by bass-baritone Eric Owens (Nekrotzar in last year’s Le Grand Macabre), five runners-up, along with winners who will be selected at random, and a few “best” categories for entries such as “haiku” and “pop culture reference.” Deadline for entry is April 15, and winners will be announced on April 20.
Some past winners:
Wagner’s “Ring” cycle: There was a young lady called Fricka Who…who…*snore* “Wake up & it’s over.” It’s good, I just wish it were quicka.
Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”: Kissed the girls and made them cry. Stabbed one’s dad and watched him die. Offered chances to repent, he opted to be Hades sent. Men!
Verdi’s “La Traviata”: Father is less than enthusiastic about son’s love affair with aging, bankrupt, terminally ill prostitute. Can you believe it?
Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman”: Let me get this straight: unfathomable treasure if I betroth my loopy daughter to a ghost? Deal. She’ll meet you by the fjord.
Photo by Chris Lee.
28 March 2011
Happy Birthday to New York Philharmonic Principal Percussion
Christopher S. Lamb!
Mr. Lamb was recently honored for his 25 years with the Orchestra, and over the years has been soloist in works commissioned for him by the Philharmonic, such as Tan Dun’s Concerto for Water Percussion, which he performed to rave reviews at Avery Fisher Hall, and on the Philharmonic’s tour to South America, as well as in Asia and Europe with such notable orchestras as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Gewandhaus Orchestra.
Here are some video clips of Mr. Lamb “Searching for Heavy Metal” in a local scrap yard, demonstrating percussion for Lincoln Center’s Varèse (R)evolution, and showing his ambidexterity at rehearsal for Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre.
28 December 2010
“The Best of 2010”
That’s how The New York Times, Time Out New York, New York magazine, and The New Yorker described Alan Gilbert’s first season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, with extraordinary praise for Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre last May.Don’t miss the next collaboration with director/designer Doug Fitch this coming June 2225: Janáček’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen.
22 December 2010
The hits keep coming! Time Out New York’s “The best (and worst) of 2010” features Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic’s production of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre at the top of the year’s best! The “audacious” production set the tone for the season and changed “the playing field for opera in New York.” In case you missed it, you can sneak a peek at soprano Barbara Hannigan (above) doing her thing as Gepopo in last May’s performances. Read more: The best (and worst) of 2010 - Classical & Opera - Time Out New York
9 December 2010
New Yorker critic Alex Ross on
Conductor: In a startling turn of events, Alan Gilbert, midway through his second season at the New York Philharmonic, has transformed a once hidebound orchestra into a crusading modern-music ensemble. Even more surprising, he has brought much of the audience along with him, inciting full-throated ovations for such risky fare as György Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre,” Edgard Varèse’s “Amériques,” and Magnus Lindberg’s “Kraft.” Gilbert’s task is now to bring the same fire to standard repertory.
7 December 2010
We’re #1… (and #2)!
In this week’s issue of New York Magazine,music critic Justin Davidson rounds up the “Top 10 Classical Music Performances” for The Year in Culture: 2010. Alan Gilbert and the Orchestra’s “avant-garde triumph,” the “exuberantly ghoulish production” of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, tops the list, immediately followed by performances of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex from last season’s three-week Philharmonic Festival: The Russian Stravinsky.