It was one of Poulenc’s friends, the noted music critic Claude Rostand, who came up with the description that stuck: “le moine et le voyou.” That comment in a 1950 edition of Paris-Presse translated as “the monk and hooligan.” It was Rostand’s attempt at capturing the extremes in Poulenc’s musical personality. This is not to say the composer’s mind was chaos, only that it was his nature to shift
Monday, November 24, 2014 by Noel Morris
Spinning CDs is a simple way to keep a radio station on the air. The performers, the production values, and the performances are all certainties. The operation of a CD player is reasonably predictable. With services like radio, Pandora, and Spotify offering a steady stream of great music, why then do people continue to buy tickets to live concerts?
Friday, November 21, 2014 by Noel Morris
He’s not exactly new to opera; some think he’s the greatest living Verdi conductor (Levine fans, avert your eyes). Riccardo Muti is as celebrated as he is hard to get. After a lifetime on the podium, the 73-year-old maestro doesn’t need opera companies to satisfy his artistic appetite. He does fancy expanding the repertoire of his symphony orchestra to include opera. Enter the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Thursday, November 20, 2014 by Noel Morris
Today the world is remembering the life and work of writer and director Mike Nichols, who died suddenly on Wednesday at the age of 83. In a career that spanned over six decades, he won nine Tony Awards and an Academy Award for Best Director for the 1967 blockbuster “The Graduate.” Around the offices of WFMT, Mike Nichols is remembered for being among the pioneering forces in the early days of this radio station
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 by Noel Morris
By the time John Corigliano presented his First Symphony in 1990, America had witnessed years of hate speech directed at those most vulnerable to AIDS. AIDS patients lived in fear of persecution. Their right to privacy was pitted against a perceived threat to public safety, while research and public education were only just beginning to make inroads against the disease.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 by Noel Morris
Remember John Madden’s film Shakespeare in Love in which men had to play all the women’s roles due to Elizabethan standards of decency? In opera, that tradition swings both directions. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has captured the imaginations of many composers; the story is timeless, even as a readers’ biases change – and they’ve changed a lot. When Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli composed his opera on Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo e Giulietta (1796), his image of Romeo
Monday, November 17, 2014 by Noel Morris
Eric Owens has the versatility and commanding stage presence that make a company want to choose operas with meaty roles that he can sing. He was the title character in Handel’s Hercules at Lyric in 2011. He sang the role of Rusalka’s father, Vodnik, last season, and stars in Porgy and Bess, which opens Monday
Friday, November 14, 2014 by Noel Morris
David DiChiera did not work his way up through the ranks; he created the ranks. He is a composer and visionary who founded two opera companies; bought a derelict theater (and hosted a formal dinner in it), and is helping to rejuvenate the city of Detroit. Mr. DiChiera seems to have a gift for breathing life into big ideas.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by Noel Morris
Just about everyone in the classical music world holds Mr. Boulez in the highest esteem, though some might add to that a hint of perplexity. Barbara Jepson in The Wall Street Journal put it this way,”[He is a] pioneering composer of thorny modernist works.” She then argues “Why Pierre Boulez’s Répons Is a Masterpiece.”
Monday, November 10, 2014 by Noel Morris
In August of 1965, Billboard magazine printed a recap of the Ravinia festival, which had opened on a 40-degree evening in the middle of June. Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinsky had conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that summer. “Ravinia perennial” Elizabeth Schwarzkopf sang; their 29-year-old music director Seiji Ozawa conducted, and Ella Fitzgerald