Monday, January 20, 2014

Claudio Abbado (1933-2014)

With sadness we note the passing of one of the very great conductors of our day, Claudio Abbado.

We heard him and countryman Maurizio Pollini perform with the Chicago Symphony, Feb. 17, 1977:

  • Bach, J.S.    Air on G string
  • Bartok    PC No. 2 
  • Prokofiev    Alexander Nevsky
Very memorable indeed.  His winning performances helped earn the spot of principal guest conductor, CSO, 1982-1986, a long time ago, yes, but seems only yesterday.

Meanwhile, the plaudits are coming in for him on our local WFMT from all over the world.  He battled stomach cancer for some years, and his handsome, robust frame was devastated by the horror.  (Still, ailing, he conducted, however, as recently as October 31, 2013, La Scala, Milan, where he was accorded a 15 minute standing ovation.)

The battle is over.  R.I.P. Maestro Abbado....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: Opera Lively -- The Interviews
In communicating around the classical and opera world about our new volume, Obscure Composers, we made the acquaintance of Dr. Luis Gazzola, and he  reciprocally shared with us his exceptional new volume, Opera Lively -- The Interviews.

We loved it.

An "inside baseball" look at the currently reigning stars of the world of opera.  Thoroughly engaging, even for a novice, and hard to put down.  The author captures the personalities of his interviewees, both in their own words, and by his descriptions.  Worth the price of admission alone is the interview with rising star Danielle de Niese on the requirements of cardio fitness, the physical risks of performance from flying sea shells (!), and her avid use of social media to connect with her following.

Rarely does an author bring so much passion to his work (the author is a doctor by day, an opera fanatic by night and weekend).  The dedication to the art form, and the excitement is on every page here.    He himself offers the best explanation:  "Opera touches the very core of the human condition. It has a force of truth, or “Satyagraha”,  a very appropriate name for a contemporary opera. Opera is sublime music that expresses and illustrates love, desire, duty, friendship, loyalty, jealousy, power, greed, death, murder, war, religion, mythology… what makes us human. And it does so by way of the ultimate art form that encompasses the musical, theatrical and visual arts, including instrumental playing, singing, acting, scenery, costumes, props, lighting, prose, poetry…  "

Outstanding publication, not to be missed.  Give a look to the Opera Lively web site from whence it came as well.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Have an Ordinary New Year!

Very thought provoking piece.

Instead of bigger, faster, bolder, richer, happier, more exciting, the author recommends:  consider "ordinary."  He makes an interesting -- and Biblical -- case for it here.....

Calls to mind the WWII British slogan:  keep calm and carry on....which, after all, worked.  So, for your reading and philosophical enjoyment:

Have an Ordinary New Year!