GLENN LONEY'S ARTS RAMBLES
THIS WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS…
April is said to be the Cruelest Month, by no less an Expert than Thomas Stearns Eliot.
But he'd never even heard of the US Income Tax, due in that Fateful Month, in order to finance Our Many Wars Abroad: To keep Boeing flying & the Pentagon percolating…
Alas, Poor February! The Shortest Month of all, although a Leap Day longer than usual this year.
Fortunately, February is distinguished by both Presidents' Day & Valentine's Day.
This Year of Our Lord, 2012, that Latter Day was celebrated all month long by a string of Valentine Worthy Stage Adventures.
For Performing Arts Critics & Reporters, no sitting quietly at Home, warm & dry: Too many Shows to see; too many fascinating Exhibitions in New York Museums & Galleries…
PASSING GLANCES AT SCENES SEEN:
•Philippe Entremont Conducts, With Three Outstanding Young Pianists in Mozart Concertos!
What a treat to watch the Distinguished Conductor, Philppe Entremont, work with three talented but differently accented young Female Pianists!
This very special Concert—featuring the Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra—was the occasion for presenting the 2011 2012 Winners of the Dora Zaslavsky Koch Concerto Competition.
Angelika Fuchs ably played Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488.
Hong Tang sensitively interpreted Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466. There were moments when Maestro Entremont turned away from the Orchestra to contemplate Ms. Hong at the keyboard. As well he might…
Jixian Tian brilliantly negotiated Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467.
But, once again, one is moved to ask: "Where are all those Middle Americans who could be the Backbone of the Orchestral & Soloist Life of America's Cultural Future?"
Or are Those Who Come After doomed to watch long ago recorded Soloists & Orchestras on their Cell Phones?
•Mellon Lecture at the Morgan: Fantastic Photos of Farnese Gallery in French Embassy in Rome.
If you missed seeing the Farnese Gallery the last time you were in Rome, do not despair.
Live Long Enough & the French Embassy might just let you have a look—after the magnificent Annibale Carracci Frescoes & the Ceiling Vault are restored…
The Palazzo Farnese is one of the most imposing of Roman Monuments, initially constructed to let Rome & the World—Urbi et Orbi—know how great was the Power & Wealth of the Farnese Family.
Like the Borgias & the Medici, the Farnese had their share of Cardinals & even Popes: Man Proposes, it is often said, but God Disposes…
At one point in History, God disposed that the French should acquire the Farnese Palace for use as its Embassy.
[I've not Googled or Wikipediaed, but I suspect they got their hands on this Property when Napoleon conquered Italy, making his son, L'Aiglon, The King of Rome.]
At the Morgan Library, the annual Paul Mellon Lecture—sponsored by the World Monuments Fund—offered an excellent opportunity to see the Carracci Frescoes up close & in detail.
Only when the Restoration is complete, will you be able to see these wonderful Art Works for yourself.
In Previous Decades, if you had no business [Visa or otherwise] at the Embassy, you were not free to wander about the treasures of the Palazzo…
Unfortunately, owing to Weather & initial Construction Problems, the Frescoes were pulling loose from the Fundament of the Vaulting.
Nailing them back in place was not a smart solution: Nails rust…
Even when the Frescoes—an elegant Art Galley Overhead—are Secure & Paint Fresh, you still won't be able to bring along a Telescope to see their astonishing Trompe l'Oeil details up close.
So it was both a benediction & an education to see both Carracci's thematic ingenuity & painterly workmanship brought so near, thanks to the clarity of the color slides of Prof. Dr. Charles Dempsey.
Dr. Dempsey had all his Citations sound & all his Footnotes in place.
This was, after all, a Lecture—which means a Reading, the staple of the Early European University System, before there were Printed Books for Students to read for themselves…
Even today, at most Universities, Nothing Has Changed. Profs are still boringly reading their ancient notes & musings, with Students diligently Transcribing them.
You might think—especially for a Paul Mellon Lecture & on such a fascinating subject as the Galleria Farnese—the Speaker [or Reader] could generate a little more Enthusiasm for his subject?
Among the many World Monument Projects currently in hand are the Ceramic Cemetery in Athens, the Monastery of St. Hilarion in the so called "Palestinian Territory," & the Nalatale Ruins in Zimbabwe.
For the Record: Your Roving Arts Reporter is not only a longtime Member of the WMF, but he's also been to many of the Historic Landmarks, Worldwide, in which the WMF is involved in Preservation & Restoration.
Naturally, he has always made INFOTOGRAPHY™ photos of the Works in Progress.
•Collegiate Choral Sing Bruckner's Te Deum at Carnegie: Anything But TeDious!
The Fine Print reveals that the Collegiate Chorale was founded by that Master of Choral Music, Robert Shaw.
Opening its 70th Concert Season at Carnegie Hall, it is still a Powerful United Voice of which the late Maestro could be proud.
Its current Music Director, James Bagwell, is to be congratulated on his work, both with the Chorale & the American Symphony Orchestra.
Together, they are a Stage Filling & Auditorium Sound Flooding Musical Powerhouse.
Austria's Anton Bruckner was a Passionate Catholic, a Church Organist of Virtuosity, & a Musical Visionary, all of which are reflected in his majestic Te Deum. Magnificently performed…
Today, long, long after the Horrific Incident at the Nazi Embassy in Paris that unleashed the Burning of All Synagogues in Germany—now known as Kristall Nacht, Sir Michael Tippett's Musical Response, A Child of Our Time, seems a bit removed & even strange.
The Title is taken from Ödon von Horvath's Ein Kind unser Zeit: exactly translated into English.
But, whereas Von Horvath was inspired by a disillusioned Nazi Soldier, Tippett inflected his Oratorio with both Handel—the Structure of The Messiah—& American Negro Spirituals.
Nonetheless, he was powerfully served by the Chorale & four excellent Soloists: Nicole Cabell, Marietta Simpson, Russell Thomas, & John Relyea.
•Too Many Unresolved Plot Lines in Instinct on Theatre Row: What's It All About?
As often happens in Manhattan—not only on Theatre Row—the four actors in Matthew Maguire's recent Instinct were excellent.
But it must have been very difficult for them to project the troubled & conflicted Personalities of four Scientists, working on the Sars Plague.
There were enough potential Plot Lines for three or four plays. Perhaps a TV Series: Straights & Lesbians Fight Disease Worldwide?
•Little Known Rossinis at Juilliard: Silken Ladders & Repudiated Marriage Contracts.
Although Gioachino Rossini's short operas, La Cambiale di Matrimonio & La Scala di Seta, are occasionally produced by Major European Opera houses, they are seldom heard or seen on American stages.
So it was good to see them brought to life at the Juilliard School in workshop productions in the Meredith Willson Theatre—named for the man who brought us The Music Man.
In what is essentially The Change of the Marriage Contract, there's the Matter of that Rich American, Slook by name, who has come to claim what could be called a Mail Order Bride.
In fact, the already in Love Fanny's Father has decided to marry her off to the American, an Overseas Business Associate.
Good for Business, perhaps. But bad for Romance…
Things ultimately work out OK & the revelation of the Voice of Ying Fang, as Fanny, is an Astonishment & a Delight!
As for The Silken Ladder—which Your Arts Reporter most recently saw in Salzburg, staged on the façade of the Archbishop's Hunting Palace, at Hellbrunn—the wrong young woman is being forced by her Father to wed a Man She Does Not Love, whereas another young woman in the Household is dying to marry that Man.
Here, also, Things ultimately work out OK & the revelation of the Voice of Lara Secord Haid, as Giulia, is also an Astonishment & a Delight!
Vlad Iftinca conducted. David Paul staged.
•Gob Squad at The Public: Get Out of the Kitchen, Kids!
It's a very long time since we have had Happenings on the Avant garde Fringe.
At the Public Theatre—which was never really a Fountainhead of Happenings: they Happened at Judson Memorial Church & LaMaMa—Andy Warhol & All That were recently recalled by Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good).
What would Avant Garde Ensembles do without Digital Video?
Had Andy had had access to such an Innovation down at The Factory, who knows how many six hour long films might have been made?
This show—concocted by a team of Brits & Germans—is inspired by Ronald Tavel's screenplay for Andy's film, Kitchen.
Ronnie also authored—among other provocative Avant garde Titles—Indira Ghandi's Daring Device!
Head of State Indira wanted to touch an Untouchable! He had what looked like a two foot long Penis in his Loin Cloth!
Ah, that Ronnie! What a Rascal!
Ah, that Andy!
[Your Roving Arts Reporter once provided Interviews for Andy Warhol's Inter/VIEW when it was still in newsprint & not yet a Fashionably Slick Product…]
The Gob Squad Program recycles an Andy Quote: When my time has come & I die, I don't want there to be anything left of me. I do not want to be a Leftover. I want my machine to disappear…
Well, looking at current Warhol Auction Prices, that didn't turn out as Andy would have wished, did it?
•Renoir's Full Length French Dancers at the Frick!
One of the Glories of the current Frick Show—Renoir, Impressionism, & Full Length Painting—is the Trining [Pairing isn't quite right for a Threesome] of three delightful Renoir paintings of Couples Dancing.
They have a Wall all to themselves. Although this Positioning has been questioned by some Art Critics…
These three lovely Impressionismes of Dancers Full Length are: Dance in the City,
Dance in the Country, & Dance at Bougival.
Considering the Increased Dangers of Middle Eastern Attacks on America & the
Arts in General, it is very brave of the Frick Collection to gather priceless Renoir Paintings from Abroad for a Blockbuster of even this Limited Scale.
Loans are from Cardiff's National Museum Wales, from London's National Gallery, & the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. American Cities & Museums are represented by loans from Washington, DC, Columbus, Chicago, & Boston…
Who would have thought that a Provincial Backwater like Columbus would proudly possess such a fine Renoir as Madame Henriot "en travesti"?
The Frick's own Full Length Renoir—La Promenade—is made even more interesting by discovering what or who Renoir painted out of this charming composition, with two little girls in blue, backed up by a Nanny in a dark blue Cloak, echoed in the garments of the small doll held by one of the girls.
This handsome show is closing 13 May, so don't delay…
Did Renoir ever paint a Full Length Portrait of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec?
If so, he would certainly have saved on Canvas & Paints…
•Charles Ryskamp Lives Again at the Frick!
Actually, Charles Ryskamp—who was Director of the Frick from 1969 1987—is definitively Dead. But His Spirit Lives On, in the Gift of his remarkable collection of British & Continental Drawings.
A selection is now on view [closing 8 April] in the Frick's Cabinet. See Blake, Landseer, Delacroix, Stubbs, & Degas…
•Demented & Defeated Artist in the Desert at Repertorio…
With Caridad Svich, Karen Zacarias is regarded as one of the Leading Latino Lady Playwrights of Our Times.
Mariela en el Desierto certainly confirms that estimation.
Detesting & despising the Success of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, & the Mexican Muralists, José [Alfredo Huereca] has retreated to the Desert to found an Artists' Colony, where he believes he will joined by other Like Minded Painters & Sculptors, free of the Urban Constraints & Cultural Blandishments of the Districto Féderal: Mexico DF.
This somewhat echoes Paolo Soleri's City of the Sun Foundation way out in the Arizona Desert. Soleri believed he'd be joined by other Artists.
Instead, a small group of Young Wanderers help make Macramé, Bonze Bells & Metal Birds for sale in the Souvenir Shop.
The bitterly disappointed Failed Artist José doesn't even seem to have a Souvenir Shop…
There has been a Disastrous Fire where his paintings were stored.
Fortunately, his Masterpiece has survived.
But, guess what! His angry, ignored, abused Wife Mariela [Zulema Clares] had painted it!
Well, nobody's Perfect. Least of all, Artists!
Jerry Ruiz deftly staged, the Small Stage Made Large with the always inventive Decors of Robert Weber Federico.
•Ionesco Sings & Dances at the York, But Is He Really Happy?
The Romanian born, Paris translated Absurdist Playwright Eugene Ionesco wisely never attempted to write a Major Broadway Musical.
It remained for Robert Allen Ackerman [Concept] & Mildred Kayden [Music & Lyrics] to do that for him.
But, when first produced, it was not a Runaway Hit…
As currently revived at the York Theatre—in the bowels of St. Peter's Church, adjacent to the bowels of the Citicorp Bldg—it makes a small scale Musical Romp.
But not necessarily a Happy one…
Ionesco was too Ironic, too Mistrustful of Human Motives & Characters, to create Happy Comedies.
If you do not already know The Bald Soprano—recently revived by the Pearl Theatre—you may well be baffled as the stage fills with Bobby Watsons, more or less similarly attired.
Fortunately, the Program cites all the Ionesco Sources for all the musical morsels & titillating tidbits in this Quasi Musical.
In addition to the generally spirited Performances & the Backup Band, the Decors of James Morgan & the Costumes of Nicole Wee are themselves reason enough to see this show.
•Take Your Medicine! Primary Stages Prescribes RX at 59E59…
Thanks to Andrew Leynse—who is Artistic Director of Primary Stages—as well as to Playwright Kate Fodor, the Evils of Big Pharma, the Deceits of Medical Insurance Plans, & the Rough Seas of Neurotic Romance are all splendidly anatomized in RX.
Coupled with a lively cast—including Marin Hinkle, Stephen Kunken, Elizabeth Rich,Michael
Bakkensen, & Marylouise Burke—the ingenious Stage Machine which is the Multi Valent Setting devised by Lee Savage, this is a Not To Be Missed Production!
Ethan McSweeny staged.
•Mile High New Play Interlude in Denver!
Thanks to Medicinal Marijuana, Citizens of & Visitors to Mile High Denver can now also be Mile High themselves.
But you don't need Pot to have a good time at the New Play Summit at the Denver Theatre Center.
There is a Full Report—just finished before this Month's Screed—on line.
It should be on NYTheatre Wire.com, but I can never find my column in the welter of reports & reviews on that Website.
So, try also: GlennLoneyArtsArchive.com. This will soon be transformed into TheArtsArchive.com, which sounds more All Encompassing. Much less like a Personal Blog…
It was, once again, a distinct pleasure not only to interview Shakespeare Directing Genius Kent Thompson & talk with the Denver Center's Majority Patron, Donald Seawell, but also to encounter Primary Stage's Andrew Leynse who had just chatted with Your Arts Reporter only two evenings previous in Manhattan.
Andrew is Director of the New Works Festival at Colorado's Historic Steamboat Springs!
Centered in the Perry Mansfield Performance Arts School & Camp, this year's Fest runs from 15 17 June, but the School & Camp have no such Time Limits.
Also on hand was Sara Steinberg—representing the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Foundation, which sponsors the Fest, as well as the Laura Pels Theatre in Manhattan & 59E59, which is home to Primary Stages.
•With My Friend Felix & Arlene Dahl at the TV Academy!
My old California friend, Felix Racelis, phoned me from LA to tell me his New Play in Process would have a Professional Reading in Manhattan.
At the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, no less!
[I'm assuming that these are the same Academicians who annually grant those coveted & cherished Oscar Awards? As I do not, On Principle, watch TV, I am largely Ignorant of Cultural Trends & Events in America…]
Apparently, these Play Readings occur on a monthly basis.
What drew me forth on a cold Monday Night was not only the opportunity to see Felix after my long, long absence from LA & hear his play, Death In Texas, but also to see once again that Beloved Star, Arlene Dahl, who introduced the Proceedings.
Benjamin Franklin long ago asserted that there were only Two Things in Human Life that were Certain: DEATH & TAXES…
Felix has punned his title from that Franklinian Truism.
Not to give away the manifold Secrets of the Play, but a Severely Handicapped & Long Suffering Wife shoots her Cheating Spouse in Texas.
Of course, Things do not turn out the way she hoped they would. In Good Plays, they seldom do…
At the close—after enjoying the inflections of such troupers s Kathleen Schadow, Matt Huffman, & Kathleen Peirce—we were invited to suggest improvements or clarifications to the Working Script.
I refrained, as I feared that, with a Dead Husband & a Potentially Dying Wife, there wasn't much Potential for a Series Franchise.
Isn't that what everyone is looking for in Hollywood?
Peggy Howard Chane directed the Reading, which was produced by Ellen Muir for the TV Academy.
This all took place in the handsome Marble Precincts of HBO's lavish Screening Room & Foyer on The Avenue of The Americas, more familiarly known as Sixth Avenue…
Felix & Your Roving Arts Reporter were once Neighbors.
But not in Los Angeles—where I used to be a "Stringer" for the LA Times, in Theatre & Music.
No, we were both owners of Historic Houses in my Home Town of Nevada City, where I once maintained an even more Historic House, known officially as Mount Wesley.
But, more often, it was called The Teddy Bear Castle, as it was crammed with Teddies of All Sizes. Not Mine, but those of Osborn & Woods, the late Founders of the now defunct American Victorian Museum.
When my Bio Book, Unsung Genius, The Passion of Dancer, Choreographer, Director Jack Cole—appeared, Felix generously orchestrated my Book Tour from San Francisco down the Coast to the Beverly Hills Hotel…
•Prints, Prints, & More Prints at MoMA: Even Hanging on Wash Lines!
At MoMA, Print/Out celebrates the past Two Decades [20 whole years!] of Print Making by Big Names in the Art World.
Some of them many Middle Class Americans may not have heard of, as they are European Talents!
By now, however, most Well Informed Citizens are well aware of the Travails of Ai Wei Wei, an Innovative Thorn in the Gut of Communist/Capitalist Beijing.
Actually, there is/are a variety of Print Activities on show at MoMA, including a Demo Table by Copenhagen based SUPERFLEX, where transparent plastic sheets are being Printed with images of Trendy Lighting Fixtures.
These are then mounted in square box frames, & illuminated from the inside by Ordinary Light Bulbs!
This unusual group has been "Questioning Social & Economic Structures since 1993."
Copyright Issues may be a focus of this Lamp Replication Project, as copies of copies become Originals Again!
Your Roving Arts Reporter's favorite room looks like a Washerwoman's Nightmare: it is criss crossed with a myriad of Clothes Lines from which scores of small prints are suspended.
Not exactly Hung Out to Dry, as they have long since hardened their inked images…
But what an Ingenious Way to increase Exhibition Space, freeing up the actual MoMA Walls for larger forms of Print Making!
How about a printed card with the worrisome Legend: this funeral is for the WRONG CORPSE?
Daniel Joseph Martinez has even more of these on display, including: we are dogs in love with our own vomit.
This was printed way back in 2004, so it is not a Satiric Comment on Middle Americans watching the Horrors of the Republican Primary "Debates."
You have until 14 May to make your way to MoMA to see prints by the likes of Max Beckmann, Louise Bourgeoise, Vija Celmins, Marina Abramovic, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Kara Walker, & Rirkrit Tiravanija. Yes! Rirkrit Tiravanija!
•Dan Flavin at the Morgan: Drawings Instead of Colored Fluorescent Tubes!
If you are among those Art Innocents who think that the only thing Dan Flavin ever knew how to do was to put Colored Gels around Fluorescent Lighting Tubes & then lean them against Museum Walls, well, the Morgan has a Surprise for you!
Flavin was also an ingenious Draftsman & Sketcher/Etcher. He also had the wit to collect some remarkable Prints & Drawings from Historic & Modern Masters.
A selection of these is on display on the Morgan Library/Museum's Second Floor, along with some of those Fluorescent Lighting Tubes.
These will remain on display until 17 July—three days after Bastille Day!
•Vistas of Endless Lottery Ticket Mosaic Space: Ghost of a Dream/forever, almost at Davidson!
If your Lottery Ticket doesn't bear the Winning Numbers, don't throw it away!
Adam Eckstrom's Collective, Ghost of a Dream, collects old Lottery Tickets from all over the World.
They then ingeniously integrate them into intricate patterns more complicated than the most magnificent Persian Carpet!
These Mosque like Mosaics can be one foot to twelve feet wide.
But one Towering Installation at Davidson Contemporary [724 Fifth Ave: Closing 17 March 2012] is a virtual Tower of Mirrors, with Vertical Lottery Mosaics seeming to run up into the Heavens & down into some kind of Gamblers Hell far below.
But you have to take off your shoes—just like Security Checks at JFK!—& replace them with plastic foot friends to stand inside this eye defying Structure.
There's another odd structure: a semi circle of TV Sets. You step inside & find yourself confronted—even affronted—by myriad TV Scenes in which Lovers declare Their Love. This was a Valentine's Day Special…
•NY City Opera Lives Again! Jonathan Miller's La Traviata at BAM!
No thanks to David H. Koch—the Billionaire Maecenas who paid Millions to re seat the Orchestra of the New York State Theatre, now the David H. Koch Memorial Theatre—the fabled New York City Opera is still alive.
Closing this Mammoth Theatre—constructed for the 1964 World's Fair—for renovations meant that the City Opera lost its momentum.
Also, it lost its Traditional Opera Home in Lincoln Center, just across the Plaza from the Met Museum—oops!—the Metropolitan Opera.
Just as the late Sir Rudolf Bing did everything he could to prevent the City Opera from moving from its former home at NY City Center into Direct Competition with the Met, so also may Met Chief Peter Gelb have been rejoicing that the City Opera would no longer challenge his Foreign Imports on the Met's Great Stage.
[Your Roving Arts Reporter can offer no First Hand Knowledge of what goes on at the Met, for—as with 59E59—I am now also effectively banned at the Met.
[Oh, I could buy a ticket & sit way up in Anglo Saxon Heaven, where the Acoustics are still very good, even though the Performers look like Costumed Ants, musically ranting on the opposite side of the Hudson River.
[But, this Fall, when I called about Press Tickets for New Productions & the Complete RING, I was told that the Press Ticket Allocation was "severely Limited."
[As some of my Colleagues are still on the List, this must be Personal…]
Anyway, the New York City Opera—founded by Maestro Julius Rudel, with his beloved Colleagues, the late Norman Treigle & Beverley Sills—has found a Home way over in Brooklyn, at BAM—the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
This may be a kind of Historic Justice, for the Brooklyn Academy of Music was once a Direct Challenge to Manhattan's own Academy of Music, down on East 14th Street, supplanted by that Con Edison Tower.
In their last Incarnation at Lincoln Center, the City Opera's most effective production was staged by Jonathan Miller, imagining The Elixir of Love taking place in a Filling Station & Café somewhere Way Out West.
So, it's perhaps a bit Unfair to task Peter Gelb with importing European Productions—or other Alien Stagings—when the City Opera's Miller Visions are also not created In House…
But whatever Aliens come to the Met's Stage, they are certainly not Undocumented Aliens. They can glide in on the Wings of Continental Raves.
This can also work in reverse, as in the case of the Met's new Tosca, a co production with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
It premiered at the Met, only to be greeted in Munich as fresh from its "Dress Rehearsal" in New York!
The new Season of City Opera over in Brooklyn—there was no Fall Season—began with a rather traditional La Traviata, also attributed to Jonathan Miller.
But there was no real Glimmer of the Masterful Miller Touch to this staging, originally created for the Vancouver Opera & for the Glimmerglass Opera, which used to be the Rehearsal Venue for new City Opera productions.
Scenery, Costumes, & Supertitles, however, were generously credited to V O & G O…
Elena Araoz re staged & choreographed the Brooklyn Traviata, which was briskly conducted by Steven White.
The Ballroom Dances—in the lavish Victorian Ball gowns—were delightful, though some of the best may have been being danced off stage, viewed only through open doors…
Laquitta Mitchell was a splendid, heart breaking Violetta.
David Pomeroy—in his City Opera debut—sang well enough as Alfredo, but lacked the Romantic Charisma that could have made this Lovers' Tragedy truly unforgettable.
He didn't seem to have inherited the Musical Genes of his Stage Father, Giorgio Germont [Stephen Powell], who both sang & acted with Power & Nobility.
The Interchangeable Walls of the Basic Set—shuffled & reshuffled for various Locales—seemed afflicted with some kind of Mildew or Mold.
They looked as though both Violetta & Flora needed the Services of a Paper Hanger, or a Pest Specialist.
Even out in the Country—in the Lovers' Retreat—the same stains dripped down the walls…
A Patron—who generously invited me to share with him, as I had not been able to find out who was in charge of Press Tickets—assured me that those were not Mold Stains, but Marble!
•Masterful Kurt Masur Master Class in Conducting at Manhattan School.
It was an impressive sight to watch Maestro Kurt Masur conduct the concluding section of his Master Class in Conducting at the Manhattan School of Music: a Masterful Interpretation of Beethoven's Egmont Overture.
This was the Seventh Annual Kurt Masur [Week Long] Conducting Seminar. This Winter, Masur focused on Conducting the Masterworks of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Mendelsohn had been easier, but Beethoven & Bach are always Ultimate Challenges…
Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony—No. 6 in F Major—opened the concert, with four of Masur's students taking turns conducting the Five Movements.
Good News for Lovers of Bernsteinian Flamboyance: you will surely hear more from the dynamic young conductors, Stilian Kirov & Farkhad Khudyev.
Also able on the Podium: Jan Erik Hybertsen & Kah Chun Wong—who, like the Maestro, used his hands, rather than a baton, to good effect.
After the Intermission, Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major had its four movements divided among Jacomo Rafael Bairos, Brandon Keith Brown, Michael Rossi, & Aram Demirjian.
It was, however, surprising that there were no future Female Conductors on the Podium.
The All Male Von Karajan Glass Ceiling has already been broken by gifted Women Conductors. Why is no one aspiring up on Convent Avenue?
It was encouraging to watch Maestro Kurt Masur conducting, as he was born in 1927, making him 84 years old. Just a year older than Your Roving Arts Reporter…
Long before Prof. Masur was invited to conduct the New York Philharmonic, he was the honored & admired Conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchester in Leipzig.
Two years before the Fall of the Berlin Wall—in November 1989—I was able to interview the Maestro in the Gewandhaus Complex. I was on a special Culture Tour of the former German Democratic Republic. The infamous Stasi Ridden DDR or GDR…
Maestro Masur was gracious, but hurried. He & his wife were off to an Hawaiian Holiday, to celebrate their Wedding Anniversary!
I couldn't resist noting that most East German Workers were lucky if they could have some Vacation Time in Bulgaria. They weren't welcome in Soviet Russia…
Behind the Iron Curtain, the Fiction was that Everyone was a Worker.
But some Workers were More Equal than others…
•THE ANNUAL: 2012—At the National Academy! Not To Be Confused with the Whitney Biennial…
As it has been closed for some time—for Renovations & Recalibrations—The National Academy may have faded from the memories of some Regulars on Museum Mile.
Now, it's back, with its Traditional Annual Show, but this time, National Academicians are shown alongside quite Unanointed American Artists!
Not all are Painters, Sculptors, or Print Makers.
Architects are also considered Artists!
From the Wall Tags, it would seem, however, that some of the Latter will soon be Inducted into the Halls of the Anointed. Members nominate likely Choices.
The Academy is actually Archer Huntington's former Town House, funded in part from his Inheritance from the Construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.
Collis P. Huntington was one of The Big Four.
This Fortune also enabled Archer to construct all those Remarkable Buildings up at Audubon Terrace, where you can enjoy Goyas & even El Grecos!
At the Academy—which is also an Art School—there are no Maked Majas on view, but you can enjoy recent works, designs, & constructions by Lynda Benglis, Carrie Mae Weems, Susan Jane Walp, Simon Dinnerstein, Robert AM Stern, Philip Pearlstein, Ken Kewley, Karen Kunc, Rafael Viñoly, Bernard Tschumi, Jim Nutt, & Glenn Ligon—who recently had a show at the Whitney.
The Huntington Town House is well worth a visit in its Own Right, owing to its impressive Neo Classical Interiors…
•Brecht Would Approve! F. Murray Abraham IS Galileo, But Watch Out for The Inquisition!
Truth is, Bertolt Brecht might not now approve of the Charles Laughton Version of his monumental drama, Galileo, that is playing to Sold Out Houses at the Classic Stage Company.
Nonetheless, F. Murray Abraham is himself monumental in recreating Gaileo's eagerness for Discovery, his anguish at Clerical Fatwahs, & the bitter realization that—to save his Skin—he failed to Stand for the Truth, thus, perhaps, delaying the Age of Reason.
[The Renaissance was already Underway, but, it could be argued, Italy & especially Rome, has yet to experience an Age of Reason…]
There is a very Current Moral in this Drama of the Distant Past: Denying that the Sun is the Center of Our Solar System—instead of the Earth, at the center of Eight Crystalline Spheres, as posited by Aristotle, who was not, after, all a Roman Catholic—could be seen as similar to Denying Scientific Evidence of Global Warming!
Of course, the Republican Obstructionists in Our Congress are not to be compared to the Holy & Roman Catholic Office of the Inquisition. No, indeed…
Speaker of the House John Boehner, fortunately, does not have the Instruments of Torture available to The Inquisition in Renaissance Rome. [But we do have even more refined Tortures awaiting Enemies of the American Dream down in Guantanamo!]
In Galileo's Time, it was an Article of Faith that the Earth was the Center of Everything [substitute America for the Neo Cons!], regardless of what Galileo was seeing in the skies with his new Telescope.
To deny this was a Heresy so heinous & horrible as to risk being Burnt at the Stake. St. Joan was burned at the Stake & she didn't even have a Telescope…
Oh! It's worth remembering that Joan wasn't even sainted until the 20th Century. Galileo had to wait to be Pardoned for his Heresy until the Reign of Pope John XXII.
I have always regarded Galileo as Brecht's greatest play, with Mother Courage a close Second.
In fact, I believe that Galileo is one of the greatest dramas of the 20th Century.
Nonetheless, a former student—on seeing the CSC production—was unimpressed: "Brecht left out the most important scene: The Trial before The Inquisition!"
Well, that's of course a Matter of Opinion…
For the Scene in which the plainly garbed Cardinal Barberini—himself a Mathematician & Scientist—is gradually & gloriously robed as Pope, the Costly Vestments being brought across a wide, wide stage, one by one, as he is transformed into Christ's Vicar on Earth—responsible for upholding all the Articles of the Faith & enforcing Catholic Conformity—is a more terrifying sight than any Inquisitatorial Trial.
Of course, those who see Murray Abraham inhabit & interpret Galileo may not realize that they are seeing Charles Laughton's early edition of the drama, not what Brecht had finally envisioned.
Had it not been for Laughton's interest—as well as his eagerness to play Galileo himself—the play would never have had its World Premiere in America.
Brecht had escaped the Clutches of Hitler & the Nazis by escaping through Scandinavia, across the Soviet Union to Vladivastok, & onward to Santa Monica, in Southern California. Where he wrote largely unproduced Screenplays & Brechtian Dramas.
Aside from the Refugee German Community in the Los Angeles Area, who then had heard of Bertolt Brecht?
When he finally set up shop at the Berliner Ensemble in East Berlin—having first secured a Swiss Passport & Bank Account, as well as a West German Publisher—he busied himself with creating what he called Model Bücher, photo books that showed, scene by scene, how he wanted his plays to Look on stage.
It never occurred to Brecht that Succeeding Generations might well take a quite different Look at his dramas…
Or that they might even forget the Plays & the Man, Bertolt Brecht.
That's why I made the effort, shortly before he died, to visit him in his office at the Berliner Ensemble.
Some time later, I interviewed his wife, the great German Actress, Helene Weigel, who led the BE after his demise. She gave me Pound Cake & Tea in the Rep Canteen, asking me if I knew her NY dwelling son, Stefan Brecht, who, she said, was crazy…
He chose not to live in East Berlin & work in the Company Store. The Royalties were mailed to Manhattan, I assume.
Anyway, the CSC/Laughton Galileo is not the Last Word: not the Final Document, with its echt Brechtian Scenes & Songs. Much longer & more powerful, in fact, than down on East 13th Street.
For the Record: I photographed for INFOTOGRAPHY™ the Graves of Bert Brecht, Helena Weigel, Johannes R. Becher—the Poet of the DDR, Anna Seaghers, John Heartfield, Wieland Herzfeld—his brother, & the great Schinckel.
They are all buried in the Protestant Cemetery in the former East Berlin. Even the Quasi Nazi Pope wouldn't have permitted Brecht a Catholic/Christian Burial, would he?
Oh! Brian Kulick staged Laughton's Galileo, with the ingenious Set pieces & Projections contrived by the remarkable Adrienne Lobel!
Also: Handsome Period Costumes by Oana Botez Ban & Lighting by Justin Townsend!
•Brazil & Then Some at the New Vic!
The minute I saw, once again, the charming film that evokes the Narrow Alleys & Steep Stairways of the Ghettos of Big City Brazil—with Soccer Balls bouncing along—I knew I had seen Brazil! Brazil! before.
Was this a Return Engagement to the New Victory on New 42nd Street? Or had I seen this energy packed show at the Edinburgh Festival?
We had to sit upstairs, as every seat was Sold Out! No Wonder!
Both Kids & Parents were keeping time to Mambo & Samba Rhythms.
Dynamic Drums, Frantic Antic Dancing, Fantastic Somersaults, Dazzling Costumes: A veritable Athletic Cornucopia of Carnevale Madness & Gaiety—all linked by bouncing Soccer Balls with the Logo of Brazil!
Thank you, Toby Gough, the Creator/Director!
•Larger Than Life: Cindy Sherman & Her Photos at MoMA!
Lon Chaney was known as The Man of a Thousand Faces…
At MoMA, there seem to be almost a Thousand Portrait Photos of a Woman with a Thousand Wigs &Make ups!
Cindy Sherman—who has made Herself the Major Subject of most of her distinctive Photo Portraits—seems to have the same Exhibitionist Passion as Major Porn Stars…
She certainly has no qualms about photographing her Sagging Boobs in the Altogether, not to overlook some almost repellent Crotch Shots. Repellent, unless you are a Confirmed Muff Diver.
Nonetheless, she has a Touch of Genius in the varied ways she uses Extreme Makeup, Garish Wigs, & Odd or Period Costumes to simulate Other Identities.
In fact, in one chamber of this many roomed exhibition at MoMA, there is an Array of Old Masters that is simply Astonishing!
Is that a Carravaggio? Is this a Portrait of Savanarola?
Can that Portrait be by Hans Holbein?
Considering Cindy Sherman's flaunting of her Body Parts & her often comical celebration of what Photography can do to create Alternate Personalities, Sherman is very Modest about her Artworks.
The Sherman Portraits are all titled Untitled, but they are numbered & dated…
MoMA is hosting all the different Cindy Shermans until 11 June.
•Rufus Wainwright's Prima Donna Takes a Bow at BAM!
Anyone who was afraid that Rufus Wainwright—of those Folk Singing Wainwrights—would compose an American Folk Opera can now relax.
Not only has he not tackled an All American Theme, but he has also left these shores entirely, to create an Opera in French.
This is not, however, a French Opera. Gounod & Offenbach, Your Laurels are still Secure!
Wainwright was commissioned to compose Prima Donna for the Manchester International Festival…
Manchester has an INTERNATIONAL Festival? How many people can even find Manchester on the Map?
Not to worry: Sadler's Wells, the Toronto Festival of Arts & Creativity, & the Melbourne International Arts Festival have also enjoyed the Rufusian Efforts to create a Modern Opera.
Actually, this is not really a Modern Opera. It is, instead, a kind of Pastiche, with a somewhat lyrical score underscoring a Problematic Libretto, crafted by Wainwright & Bernadette Colomine.
[At least, the Blessed Virgin—or BVM—did not appear to this Bernadette & command that a Basilica should be built on the Site of the Manchester Festival…]
There is no Synopsis in the BAM Program, but the unfolding events are easy enough to follow, even without reading the Supertitles in French, which is not quite the same as French Supertitles.
This Prima Donna [splendidly sung by Melody Moore] mysteriously lost her voice after the Premiere Performance of the now forgotten opera, Aliénor d'Aquitaine.
Fortunately—for her & for Posterity—that Initial Performance was Recorded.
Now, after a Decade's Absence from the Opera Stage, prodded by her Dominating Butler, Philippe [strongly sung by Randal Turner], she is planning a return to Greatness.
The Butler has invited a Journalist [Taylor Stayton—who is a splendid Tenor] to Interview her, an apparent Prelude to her Triumphant Re emergence.
Curiously, there is No Talk of Agents, of potential Opera Venues, of Possible Roles—other than that of Eleanor of Aquitaine, nor of Target Dates…
As for Memorable Arias & Duets, Your Arts Reporter cannot easily cite any, although there is a Setting the Table song that's more about being a Virgin in Picardy than a Maid in Paris.
There's also a Blowing Out the Candles Aria, but that seems an echo of Glass Menagerie's Laurentian Candle Blowing Out…
For that matter, the Journalist's provocative singing of the Role of King Henry II—Eleanore's Royal Suitor: see Lion in Winter, to discover how that Royal Wedding turned out—causes the Prima Donna, aptly named Régine—once Queen of the Paris Opera—to lose her voice all over again.
This, of course, recalls the Tragedy of Antonia in Jacques Offenbach's French Opera of The Tales of Hoffmann…
Régine's only Friend in all this travail is her new hire Maid, Marie [piercingly sung by Kathryn Guthrie Demos].
The entire opera takes place in a cavernous Salon Nobile in an ancient Parisian Mansion. It closes with Régine watching Simulated Fireworks from her windows on Bastille Day…
Anthony McDonald conceived both the Enormous Room & the Costumes: Régine had a glamorous, even Regal, long sleeved light blue Gown—an Aliénor Elegance—with trailing wafts of silk that made me fear every time she went near all those Guttering Candelabras, strewn about the vast floor.
[I've never forgotten the time a Soprano's Hair caught fire from a Live Candle in New York City Opera's production of A Village Romeo & Juliet!
[Open Flames on stage should be a No No! Fortunately, the Tenor threw his Cloak over Juliet's flaming head…]
Jayce Ogren conducted Prima Donna, which was staged by Tim Albery.
I am, of course, glad I was enabled to see & hear it. But I'm not waiting breathlessly for the CD.
Speaking of Journalists interviewing Fading & Faded Opera Sopranos, Your Roving Arts Reporter has many a Tale to Tell…
My first piece of advice to Fledgling Young Culture Journalists is: NEVER CONDUCT INTERVIEWS WITH LONELY SOPRANOS OR EVEN SELF IMPORTANT TENORS—EVEN IF THEY ARE MARRIED—IN THEIR HOTEL BEDROOMS…
"Why don't you sit right here beside me on the bed? Your Microphone doesn't look like it can record my voice so far across the room…
"You know, it's so strange, being all alone on the Road, after all that Applause, to come back here and have nothing to do but watch Television. Sometimes, I get so lonely…"
One of the saddest of my experiences with Fading Sopranos concerns my dear & now Late Friend, Claire Watson, once Queen of the Bavarian State Opera…
Every summer, I'd make a point of hearing her in Glowing Roles in the Munich Opera Festival.
Over time, I'd become friends with Claire & her handsome Tenor Husband, David Thaw. So much so, that they'd invite me down to Holzhausen am Ammersee, where they had a Bavarian Chalet.
But, toward the Definitive End of Claire's Career, she'd fallen in love with Prof. Dr. Günther Rennert, a brilliant Opera Director, who had become Intendant—or Artistic Director—of the Bavarian State Opera.
He was besotted with Claire, so much so that he kept giving her Starring Roles: less demanding than Elsa or Elizabeth, but still with Musical Challenges that she could not easily meet.
Meanwhile, David was considering Divorce, but Frau Rennert wisely advised him to wait out the Affair.
One summer, when Claire had been telling me how much improved her voice was—she was taking Special Vocal Therapy, apparently—she offered to drive me back to Munich at the close of a pleasant day of American Bar B Q & Swimming.
I'd come down by Train & David was preparing to drive me to the Turkendolch RR Station.
Claire wouldn't hear of that: "David! I have some very important letters to post in Munich!"
En route, I kept hearing from Claire how much her voice had improved.
What I did not realize was that I was her Excuse to spend the night with Dr. Rennert, instead of David.
Soon after, Dr. Rennert died of a Heart Attack. And Claire retired from the National Theatre in Munich.
•The Steins Collect & Degas Draws at the Met Museum:
Can You Draw a Self Portrait without a Mirror?
It's a very good thing that both Rembrandt & Edgar Degas developed astonishing Artistic Talents to attract Attention & Fame.
Because, to look at their early Self Sketches, neither man was Much To Look At…
This small scale Met Museum show is sited in a corner intersection in the Lehman Wing, sandwiched in between two lavish reconstructions of Chambers in the Lehman Mansion, which were created to give Museum Visitors a sense of what Great Works of Art looked like in the Great Rooms of the Great & Famous & Very Rich.
Rembrandt & Degas: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will be on view until 20 May 2012, when some of the sketches will return to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
What Is It about Those Art Loving Jews? A Genius for Collecting Avant Garde: Cones & Steins!
Recently, Museum Visitors have enjoyed the Avant Garde Art Collections of the Cone Sisters of Baltimore.
Now, it's the turn of the Oakland Steins: Gertrude, Leo, Michael & Wife Sarah!
Your Roving Arts Reporter first saw this show in San Francisco last summer—so there may be a report back there in The ArtsArchive…
Somehow, it seems even larger at the Met Museum [closing 3 June 2012] than at SFMoMA.
One famous canvas now at the Met belongs to SFMoMA: Henri Matisse's Woman with a Hat.
[Your Arts Reporter almost grew up with this colorful & arresting painting when he was studying at UC/Berkeley & Stanford…]
Gertrude Stein once famously said of Oakland: "There's No There there…"
Living all those years in her famed apartment, at 27, rue de Fleurus, must have helped Stein to erase some West Coast Memories.
It also helped to be surrounded, not only by dazzling Impressionist & Cubist Paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Picabia, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, & Manet, but also by a Salon of those Artists & her Life Partner, Alice B. Toklas, for whom Gertrude wrote the famous Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas…
For the Record: There is a Baltimore Connection with Gertrude Stein, as well as with the Cone Sisters.
At her Death, Stein left the famous apartment & all the Art Works to Alice Toklas for the duration of her Life.
Unfortunately, as Age Advanced, Toklas was increasingly Losing It. Too many Hash Brownies from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook?
So my old friend, the Baltimore Lawyer, Calman Levin, was dispatched to Paris to recover all those paintings, which were, apparently, becoming endangered from lack of care.
You don't want a Mildewed Matisse or a Moldy Manet, do you?
Still, I felt a bit sad for Toklas…
•The Civil War Revisited at the Grolier: Is That the Appomattox Courthouse?
Even with Our Nation's On Going Wars, Americans should not forget that this year is the 150th Anniversary of The Civil War!
Thanks to the Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library, Manhattan's Grolier Club is able to show not only Maps of the Civil War Battles, but also Photos, Diaries, Newspaper Reports, Music, & Political Cartoons documenting this ghastly Civil Strife that Tore a Nation in Twain.
New York's Role in the Hostilities is a centerpiece of the show, for certain Financial Interests in Manhattan were, in fact, Pro Confederate…
Titled Torn in Two, the Show at the Grolier [47 East 60th—Mon Sat: 10 5pm] is organized in three sections: Rising Tensions, Nation in Conflict, & Remembering Battles & Heroes.
There must be a Reason why all those Civil War Buffs feel they have to re fight The Battle of Gettysburg every year?
In case you cannot make it to the Grolier—it's always Free!—you can experience the whole show Virtually!
It's On Line at www.tornintwo.org…
•Way Out West on 42nd Street: CQ/CX—The Atlantic at the Peter Norton Space.
We already have The New York Times on line.
Now, thanks to Playwright Gabe McKinley, we also have the Grey Lady on stage!
This is CQ/CX, which revisits the Tsuris caused by the Invention, Fabrication, & Plagiarism of Times News Reports filed by a Bright Young African American Journalist. Some of them on The Front Page!
Some Names have been changed/altered, possibly to protect the Malefactor & his Enablers. Or to avoid Lawsuits?
The Times' beleaguered & benighted Publisher, Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, Jr, is simply identified as Junior.
But it's soon clear he is in over his head, trying to emulate his Distinguished Dad's achievements in Protecting & Advancing the Family Business.
One of his Major Mistakes was hiring the widely despised Newsroom Tyrant, Howell Raines, as Editor of the New York Times, when he should have engaged Bill Keller—who went off to the LA Times, having been passed over.
In CQ/CX, however, Raines is represented by a loud & foul mouthed Southern Fanatic called Hal Martin.
From among a new pool of Times Interns, Raines/Martin has chosen an energetic & ambitious young man called Jay Bennett to become a Star Reporter. Actually, he was—supposedly still is—named Jayson Blair.
This does not turn out well, not only for the Times, but also for Truth in Reportage.
Needless to say, both Raines & Blair—both discharged from the Times—wrote books to exculpate themselves.
The Distinguished Designer, David Rockwell, has created a gray sprayed Office Setting for the Grey Lady. With the aid of Projections & rapidly moving sliding screens & scooting Set Props, scene changes zoom along.
What does not zoom are some Set Scenes, in which some characters seem to be exploring their Characters. Ho hum…
The much admired David Leveaux directed.
Of course, the Blair Affair was a Major Embarrassment for the Times, but it might have been more interesting as a Focus for a Newspaper Drama—remember Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur's The Front Page?—to have, instead, considered the Judith Miller Affair.
In the Start Up to George Bush's Disastrous War in Iraq, she filed reports that were questionable in the extreme.
Nonetheless, she was not the only Times Person to Echo & give Credence to the Lies that were being spread from The White House & State & The Pentagon by such Malefactors as Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, & even Condoleeza Rice.
Remember how we didn't want the Smoking Gun to become a Mushroom Cloud?
Is Iran about to become another Smoking Gun? Read the NY Times to find out the Truth?
"All the News That Fits, We Print…"
•Crushed Auto Bumpers & Colorful Crumpled Truck Bodies: Chamberlain at the Guggenheim.
Your Roving Arts Reporter seems to have Fallen Off the Press List at the Guggenheim Museum.
In past years, the Guggenheim even gave me a Press Card. What did I do Wrong?
So I cannot tell you in detail about all the Fractured, Crushed, & Crumpled, Fragments of Enameled Sheet Metal & Chrome Bumpers now on view, until 13 May.
Unlike that Guy—was he named Çesar, or something like that?—who simply took Crushed Cubes of Auto Bodies, ready for the Smelter, & put them on Gallery Floors, John Chamberlain was more selective in what he used & how he used it.
Strolling down the Great Lloyd Wright Guggenheim Rotunda, you may be astonished at the Variety of Abstract Forms Chamberlain could conjure from Scrap Heap Junk.
There are, of course, other forms of Abstraction in other Media…
When John was alive—he died last year—it could be amusing to speculate what the Crushed, Slashed, & Tin Snipped Pieces of Enameled Metal might once have been.
•Learning How To Drive All Over Again: Paula Vogel's Behind the Wheel Play Revived.
The Baltimore Waltz is, I believe, one of Paula Vogel's most interesting, imaginative plays.
So it's a bit disappointing that 2econd Stage chose, instead, to revive How I Learned To Drive.
Of course, the whole point of their Revivals is to give a Second Chance, or Second Hearing/Seeing, to plays that didn't Make It the First Time Out.
But, as I recall, Vogel's Driving Lessons were well received when first we watched her being slyly fondled by her Closely Related Auto Instructor: Watch Out for that Gear Shift!
In any case, Those Who Know found Vogel inspiring enough to make her Professor of Playwriting at Prestigious Brown University, providentially positioned in Providence.
Seeing How I Learned once again, I was surprised to discover that it's a more interesting Script than I remembered.
But what makes this production—staged by Kate Whoriskey—especially worth a visit is the Robust Performance of Norbert Leo Butz, as the Loving Uncle Peck of an extra bosomy young teen age girl, Li'l Bit [Elizabeth Reaser].
Although the drama is set in Maryland, Li'l Bit's Garish Family are Caricature White Trash, Red Neck Crackers. They & other Ancillary Characters are played by Three Greek Choristers: Kevin Cahoon, Jennifer Regan, & Marnie Schulenburg.
The simple but ingenious set is by Derek McLane, while the Basically Colored Costumes are the confections of Jenny Mannis.
•More Arts Treasures Up for Grabs [or Bids] at Christie's:
Just in case you were worried that the One Percenters had no place to spend all that virtually untaxable Money that Ex President Bush & his Grover Norquist enslaved Republican Enablers have Congressionally Guaranteed them, here's The Good News!
At the Tail End of January, Christie's Sales of Old Master & Early British Drawings & Watercolors realized $3,058,875!
But there's More To Come!
Part II of the Old Master Painting Sale fetched a fetching sum of $4,400,750!
So, in just One Week of Sales, the total was: $51.8 Million!
If you have an Edward Lear—forgotten in your closet—or a dusty old Turner, hanging in the Loo, consider these Auction Prices: $422,500 for Lear's view of Montenegro.
You could probably now buy a Castle in Montenegro for that kind of cash…
Joseph Mallord William Turner's The Chain Pier, Brighton was sold for $338,500!
That kind of Money could easily set you up with the Rental Deck Chair Franchise on the Brighton Pier next summer! It might even help you buy the Good Will of the Brighton Council?
Way To Go, Christie's! Go, One Percenters!
•Freshly Minted Rutherford & Son Revival at the Mint Theatre!
All right, already! So you've never even heard of Brit Playwright Githa Sowerby?
Few remember her work, but Jonathan Bank—the resourceful Artistic Director of the Mint Theatre—specializes in unearthing Forgotten Works by Forgotten Playwrights.
Rutherford Senior [an unforgivingly severe Robert Hogan]—in Sowerby's sour drama of Familial Discords in Over Industrialized Northern England—struggles to keep his Glassworks afloat, meanwhile treating his two sons & one daughter with Unconcealed Contempt.
Actually, he is all about Himself.
Nothing else matters. No Bonds of Loyalty to Family or Workers. No Understanding. No Pity. The Bottom Line is All…
What is especially Odd about this Set Behavior is that he intends to Leave It All to his Eldest Son John [Eli James], whom he is also planning to Cheat out of John's extremely valuable Manufacturing Discovery.
He has deliberately Spinstered his All Too Obedient Daughter, Janet [a deeply moving Sara Surrey], sending her away from home with Nothing, when he discovers she's been having a Clandestine Affair with a Working Class Foreman [a forelock tugging David Van Pelt] from the Glass Factory.
With John gone off in fury—also abandoning his young wife & baby—Mary [a resolute Allison McLemore] makes a Bargain with the bitter Old Man. He will provide for her & the Child until his Grandson is Ten.
After that, His Heir will be his own to shape.
The Jesuits have always said: Give Us the Child until he is six & he is Ours for Life.
Mary knows very well what she is doing & she's not even a Jesuit!
Richard Corley directed in Vicki R. Davis' depressing House & Factory Tyrants' Mansion, with Period Costumes by Charlotte Palmer Lane.
Sowerby's drama was lustily applauded way back in 1912.
But even then, Glassblowing was an Endangered Craft. Already, Machines could do it better. Or at least, more Cheaply.
Steuben Glass lasted until this past Winter, 2012—a Century later. But it has also now died, replaced on Madison Avenue by Michael Kors, whose Bags are Everywhere…
•At the New City, "Christopher Marlowe's" Julius Caesar?
When Your Roving Arts Reporter was recently at Theatre for the New City, Director, Playwright, Actor Robert Homeyer pressed upon him a Flyer for what purported to be a new production of Christopher Marlowe's Julius Caesar.
I assume he must have Googled to discover that I'm one of those Great Play Lovers who believe that Marlowe wrote the Plays commonly attributed to Will Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon…
But what transpired in the Basement Cellarage of Theatre for the New City—although ostensibly written by the Team of Homeyer, Marlowe, & Shakespeare—seemed largely cribbed from the Standard Version.
Although Cassius [Director Homeyer], affectionately kissing Brutus [Mark Lang] full on the lips, did explain in an Aside to the Audience—some of whom were playing Video Games during the Production—that we could forget about Portia…
Despite the obvious expense on Costumes & Classical Columns, the Acting Level was—as was the Venue—Bargain Basement. What the Brits call Coarse Acting…
Had this been a Monty Python Visitation, it could have been Uproarious.
•The Set Implodes & Explodes—With Some Assistance—in Assistance at Playwrights Horizons.
One of the most interesting Scenic Adventures in Recent Memory is the Self Destructive Implosion Ecstasy of David Korin's Office Setting in Assistance.
At the close, the Desks spill all their contents; the Chairs spin madly; the Xerox spews wild sheets of white paper; the Overhead Lamps dance; the Air Conditioning Duct collapses & the Sprinkler System starts spouting…
Of course, it's No Fun being an Office Temp.
But it's even worse being a Recent Hire, desperate to Survive, working for an Unseen Obsessive Possessive Tyrant. A Man who fires on whim…
Much of the Action in Lesley Headland's ingenious Serio Comedy of Terrified Office Workers offering Assistance over the Phone involves just such Conversations.
Somewhat like the Hero of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman—wherein we never learn what exactly it is that Willy Loman sells—so, also, do we never discover what the possible Goods or Services may be that Daniel Weisinger—the Invisible Man in this play—provides his Clients.
Nor do we have Any Idea of whom they might be…
In the Office, it's all about Jockeying for Position & Promotion.
Headland offers some Center Stage Arias for various Office Workers that are both Hilarious & Horrific.
What New Yorkers will do to hold onto a Job that is Devastatingly Unrewarding—aside from the Pay Check—& Soul Destroying!
Trip Cullman has tautly directed the Outstanding Cast, which included Bobby Steggart, Amy Rosoff, Michael Esper, Sue Jean Kim, Virginia Kull, & the aptly named Lucas Near Verbrugghe.
•Oh! Oh! It's the Whitney Biennial Again: A Bit Like Venice, But No Canals: Root Canals, Maybe?
Words Cannot [adequately] Describe the Artworks Included in the New Whitney Biennial.
So, how about some Photos of the various Paintings, Collages, Sculptures, Constructions, Installations, Photos, Appropriated Photos, Photo Montages,Videos, & Vapid Spaces?
Some of the Innovative Artists on view [until 27 May 2012] include: Cameron Crawford, Lutz Bacher, LaToya Ruby Fraser, Red Krayola, & K8 Hardy…
•Gingerbread Ahead! Amato Hansel & Gretel at the Manhattan School!
Karl Scully is hilarious as the Lady Gaga like Witch in the Amato Opera in Brief Hansel & Gretel at the Manhattan School of Music.
Will he be the True Successor in this Role to Karl Dönch, who made the Gingerbread Baking Witch his at the Met & elsewhere?
Cheers for the ingenious Costume Designer Amanda Bujak, as well as Set Designer David Gillam, who managed to set the Scenes with a series of colorfully artificed Folding Screens!
You could almost eat the Gingerbread House, but even Hansel [Sung Hwa Baek] found it was a tough screen to chew…
As is so often the case at MSM, the entire Cast was admirable. Not only strong & supple of Voice, but also adept in a kind of Parodic Comedy which such an Antiquated Fable as H&G really now requires.
Nonetheless, Composer Engelbert Humperdinck—had he been in the Audience—might have been a bit surprised to see an Ensemble in which only Scully, Sarah Smith [a charming Gretel], & Christine Browning had Non Asian Names.
But he surely would have applauded Seung Hyeon Baek, Chae Seon Kim, & Seon Gyu Park.
With, perhaps, an amused Nod to the Gingerbread Children, who included Nayoung Ban & Jennifer Sung—who seems to straddle two Naming Worlds.
Opera Director Gordon Ostrowski also narrated, while Musical Director LeAnn Overton played the abbreviated Score on the mighty Steinway.
This will be a great show to bring into New York City Schools!
Anthony Amato—who celebrated Opera for many years down on the Bowery—would be proud of his Amato Program at the Manhattan School.
But he passed on in December 2011, so, if he is now listening, among the Angelic Choirs, he can rejoice!
•Get Your Zaqistan Passport Now! New Nation State Consulate General Open at Chashama!
Down at 42nd & Third, the Consulate General of Zaqistan is eagerly moving forward its Application for Membership in The United Nations!
While Your Roving Arts Reporter is always in the forefront of helping Emerging Nations, Zaqistan—owing to its Sovereign Location—can, at best, only hope for Observer Status.
The Reason for this?
Zaqistan is only some Two+ Acres of land out in the Utah Desert.
Artist Imagineer Zaq Landsberg bid on this lonely parcel on eBay & won it!
With the Help of Some Friends—plus an NEA Grant—he has constructed a Victory Arch & a Hangar Cairn.
The new National Flag that Zaq designed is now firmly planted on the Summit—actually a small rise in the desert flatness—of Mount Insurmountable.
If you can drop by 655 Third Ave on or before 3 March 2012, you can have Zaq take your Photo for your new Zaqistan Passport!
If you miss out this time, try the Zaqistan Website: www.zaqistan.com.
Compared with the sloppy, junky Installations now on view at the Whitney Biennale, the smartly designed & ingeniously devised History & Artifacts of Zaqistan on view at Chashama should have been given a Place of Honor at the Whitney.
Curators! Are you really Aware of what's going on Out There in America? Not least in the Utah Desert…
My Advice to the Consul General of Zaqistan: Enter Your remarkable Archives in Documenta 13 in Kassel, opening in 2013.
Meanwhile, why not invite Secretary of State Hillary Clinton & Mormon Mitt Romney for a Fact Finding Tour of Zaqistan?
•Thomas Hampson's Masterful Master Class at MSM: Think & Feel While Singing—Also Breathe!
One of the Best Performances on a New York Stage in recent memory was the Master Class Thomas Hampson presented at the Manhattan School of Music.
When Hampson is in Costume & in Character—whether at the Met or in Munich—he disappears into the Role & the Narrative Action.
But when he's on stage—either introducing Gems from The American Songbook or helping Young Singers improve their own Vocalizations of Opera Arias, Lieder, or Art Songs—Hampson is the Consummate Performer.
The fascinating Session at MSM on Leap Day was nothing like the Maria Callas Master Class that Playwright Terrence McNally has imagined. Perhaps, if he looks at the Video Recording of this memorable event, he can compose a Sequel, starring Thomas Hampson?
Thomas Hampson is both handsome & personable: he knows how to Play the Audience, as well as he knows how to work with anxious Young Talents, helping them improve, without Undermining their Confidence or Upstaging Them.
Well, not exactly… Hampson cannot avoid Upstaging, when he is demonstrating—to the Singers & to the MSM audience—how to produce effective Breath Support or how to Articulate words & phrases in Italian, English, & in German.
German, to some, may sound like a very Harsh Language.
But Hampson pointed out—also demonstrating the Fluidity of all the Vowels in a vocal sequence—that a Singer doesn't have to Bite Into the Initial Consonants of German Words.
[That will serve you very well as a Singer, with the Possible Exception of Major Wagnerian Roles, though the Liebestod shouldn't sound like a Political Declaration.]
But Hampson was always careful to salute the obvious Vocal Talents of the MSM Hopefuls, working not only on Breathing, Sound Production, Articulation, & Meaning of the Words & Ideas, but also on Character & Context.
One young Baritone was singing Hugo Wolf's setting of Goethe's Der Rattenfänger.
But he seemed to have No Idea of who this Legendary Rat Catcher was. Or where he was Catching Rats & Abducting Children…
Why would you choose this famous Lied to sing, if you didn't already know about the Pied Piper of Hamlin?
This Class was generated in the context of MSM's Distance Learning Program, which began using State of the Art Video Conferencing Technology for Music Education & Performance.
Not only does MSM now offer Live Web Streaming of Student Concerts, but the Hampson Master Class was the First Live Video Stream of a Classical Music Event across an iPhone/iPod Touch Application.
If you want to both see & hear What You Missed, get On Line at: www.msmnyc.edu
STARS IN THEIR CROWNS:
This Month's Rational Ratings—
Gob Squad's Concept: GOB SQUAD'S KITCHEN (You've Never Had It So Good) [★★★]
Karen Zacarías' MARIELA EN EL DESIERTO [★★★]
Ackerman & Kayden's IONESCOPADE [★★★]
Kate Fodor's RX [★★★★]
Bertolt Brecht's LIFE OF GALILEO [★★★★]
Rufus Wainwright's PRIMA DONNA [★★★]
Gabe McKinley's CQ/CX [★★★★]
Paula Vogel's HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE [★★★]
Gita Sowerby's RUTHERFORD & SON [★★★★]
"Christopher Marlowe's" JULIUS CAESAR [not rated]
Leslye Headland's ASSISTANCE [★★★★]
Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.
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