1

Author Archive | Steve Cohen

Hilary Hahn. Photo by Michael Patrick O'Leary.

Review: Hilary Hahn Plays Bernstein with The Philadelphia Orchestra

The Leonard Bernstein Centenary continues with concerts by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Last weekend’s performances featured one of Bernstein’s most interesting (and relatively obscure) compositions — his Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium), for solo violin, strings, harp and percussion. That Plato Symposium, allow me to remind you, was a series of dissertations in ancient […]

Continue Reading
Colin Doyle. Photo by Don Valentino.

Review: ‘The Sea Cadet’ and ‘A Trip to Africa’ at Concert Operetta Theater

Concert Operetta Theater moved into new artistic territory with its November production of two unfamiliar operettas. Daniel Pantano’s Philadelphia company teamed up with a European organization led by Dario Salvi devoted to the preservation of neglected music. Their similar interests came together with a double bill of operettas not heard in America in a century. […]

Continue Reading
Matthew Rose. Photo courtesy The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Review: The Philadelphia Orchestra Gives a Haydn Masterpiece a Local Premiere

The programming of music by Haydn is unusual for The Philadelphia Orchestra. The choice is even more surprising coming from conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who is more associated with modern compositions by composers like Mahler, Bruckner and Stravinsky. Yet Nézet-Séguin chose Haydn’s The Seasons to fill the entire program in his concerts of November 16, 17 […]

Continue Reading
exterminating angel feature image

Review: ‘The Exterminating Angel’ at the Metropolitan Opera

Metropolitan Opera audiences, paying up to $393 for a ticket, can relate to the wealthy party guests in The Exterminating Angel. And so do some prestigious critics, who called this “the one opera to see this season.” Don’t they realize that they are being excoriated in this absurdist production? Don’t they see that the joke […]

Continue Reading
Alyson Cambridge. Photo by Andrew Ousley.

Review: ‘From the Diary of Sally Hemings’ at Unison Media

The New York premiere of William Bolcom’s composition, From the Diary of Sally Hemings, could not be more timely. With so much news focused on racial tensions, as well as the recent uproar over sexual aggression by powerful men, this piece explores the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave with whom he fathered six […]

Continue Reading
Margaret Leng Tan. Photo courtesy The Barnes Foundation.

Review: ‘Pioneers of Avant-Garde Piano’ at The Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation presented an unusual recital of avant-garde music composed by Henry Cowell, John Cage and George Crumb. These three giants of experimentation remind us of Albert Barnes’s interest in classical music and his sponsoring of musicians. It was Barnes’s custom to invite guests to his home to see his modernist paintings and to […]

Continue Reading
Marcia Hepps and Annaliese Gove. Photo by Paul Mackey.

Review: ‘The Manor’ by Colonial Playhouse

For fifteen years, a California theater company has been presenting the drama The Manor in the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills — an appropriate spot because the play is based on a true murder and suicide of rich and famous men in that home. Now the Colonial Playhouse, a community theater company in Aldan, Delaware […]

Continue Reading
Sondra Radvanovsky. Photo courtesy The Metropolitan Opera.

Review: ‘Norma’ at The Metropolitan Opera and Live in HD

The new Metropolitan Opera production of Norma, which opened the company’s season, is the most intimate presentation of Vincenzo Bellini’s classic that I’ve ever seen. Norma is an impressive monument and has been called “the Mount Everest of operas.” Yet director David McVicar sees it as a family story, and conductor Carlo Rizzi conducts it […]

Continue Reading
The ensemble and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Photo courtesy The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Review: ‘West Side Story’ staged by The Philadelphia Orchestra

West Side Story has never sounded as good as in last weekend’s performances by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra. It even surpassed Leonard Bernstein’s own recording, which sounds sluggish in comparison. Never once did Yannick and the Philadelphians sound like a symphony orchestra performing a pops concert. Rather, the 42-year-old led a jazzy performance […]

Continue Reading
Sage DeAgro-Ruopp. Photo courtesy Curtis Institute of Music.

Review: ‘Impressions of Pelléas’ at the Curtis Institute of Music

Claude Debussy’s only opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, is a unique masterpiece. But it’s very long: five acts, around four hours. So director and playwright Peter Brook in 1992 devised an adaptation called Impressions of Pelléas which runs 95 minutes, and which the Curtis Opera Theater presented last weekend. What sets Pelléas et Mélisande apart is its […]

Continue Reading
We Shall Not Be Moved, Wilma Theater, Opera Philadelphia

Review: ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’ by Opera Philadelphia

The sole Philadelphia-based offering in Opera Philadelphia’s O17 Festival is We Shall Not Be Moved. Its powerful message is that the city’s children, and particularly its black children, are deprived of decent education, housing and safety. The message is delivered with stirring music, impressive direction and excellent performances. This message is linked to the tragic […]

Continue Reading
War Stories, Opera Philadelphia

Review: ‘War Stories’ by Opera Philadelphia

War Stories is a clever pairing of two music dramas dealing with battles, presented by Opera Philadelphia as part of its O17 Festival. The two separate compositions are staged in adjacent areas of the Philadelphia Museum of Art — its stone cloisters and its Great Stair Hall — next to displays of medieval military armaments. Adding […]

Continue Reading
Maeve Höglund. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier.

Review: World Premiere of ‘The Wake World’ by Opera Philadelphia

Inside a museum dedicated to art from the past, the O17 Festival has brought a new opera which celebrates musical and literary styles from the past. Composer/librettist David Hertzberg built upon musical forms from the same time period, a century ago, when Albert Barnes was acquiring his unique collection. This is a clever, site-specific staging […]

Continue Reading
Sondra Radvanovsky. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier.

Review: Sondra Radvanovsky in Recital at Opera Philadelphia

Sondra Radvanovsky’s recital as part of Opera Philadelphia’s O17 Festival was a spectacular event. That may seem like an oxymoron to some readers, who expect singer/pianist recitals to be intimate communions. She is a tall, majestic-looking woman with a huge voice. Here she entered what was, for her, the unfamiliar territory of small-scaled personal communication, […]

Continue Reading
Daniela Mack. Photo by Steven Pisano.

Review: ‘Elizabeth Cree’ at Opera Philadelphia

The British statesman Winston Churchill coined the expression, “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” He was speaking of the Soviet Union. The quotation, however, also could be applied to Elizabeth Cree, the murder-mystery opera which had its world premiere Thursday night, launching Opera Philadelphia’s O17 Festival of five productions within […]

Continue Reading
Edward Parks. Photo by Ken Howard.

Review: ‘The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs’ at Santa Fe Opera

Steve Jobs was a revolutionary genius in communicating. He showed the world how to get “everything” anyone needed on a single gadget. Yet he was a spectacular failure in communicating with his friends and family on a personal level. That’s the essence of his story, and it contains basic conflict, which is the stuff of […]

Continue Reading