Audio: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9: 4. Largo

Andris Nelsons conducts the Boston Symphony.

Audio: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9: 1. Allegro

Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic.

Review: Long Beach Opera’s ‘The Perfect American’ by Philip Glass

The American premiere of Philip Glass’s “The Perfect American,” an opera that ruminates on the final days of Walt Disney, was given by ever-courageous Long Beach Opera on Sunday afternoon at the Terrace Theater. The controversial work was first proposed by Gerard Mortier during his truncated reign at New York City Opera and finally debuted in 2013 at the Teatro Real Madrid. Since then, there have been no takers on these shores, Los Angeles Opera reportedly among the companies giving it a pass. A perfect piece, then, for Long Beach Opera, which also gave us our first local look at “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

“The Perfect American” is one of those pseudo biographical artworks that sends the viewer to the internet to check on the facts. Based on a German novel, it shows Disney as a (mild) racist, anti-Communist and anti-unionist, in other words, as a man with blemishes. To tell you the truth, though, I checked the internet before seeing the opera, thinking there was more controversy than actually materialized. The opera is passingly critical of Disney, but hardly turns him into a monster. And if the last 10 or 15 minutes of the opera isn’t a loving tribute to the master, with some of the most simply beautiful music Glass has ever written, I don’t know what it is.

Besides, the opera pulls punches by having the action, such as it is, unfold in a dream state, Disney’s dream state to be specific, as he slowly dies of lung cancer in the hospital. At the very beginning of the opera, he sings about “knowing” and “not knowing” what is “real” and “not real.” We often don’t know either. Presumably, when an animatronic Lincoln visits and debates him, this is an unreal moment, but it is at precisely this time when Disney utters his racist remarks.

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Alex Ross: ‘The Fate of the Critic in the Clickbait Age’

Great article in The New Yorker (click here). I’m mentioned in the first paragraph.

photo: Eric Stoner

 

Audio: Auber: Overture to ‘Fra Diavolo’

Light entertainment, perhaps, but irresistible.

Egyptian Army Orchestra destroys national anthems

Brought to you as a public service.

Audio: Josef Suk: ‘Fantasticke scherzo’

My friend Christopher Russell conducted this piece with the OCSA Symphony Orchestra the other night. Wonderful music.

Video: Darius Milhaud: ‘Scaramouche’

Martha Argerich and Cristina Marton, pianos.

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Review: ‘Aida’ in a sandbox

Amneris (Milena Kitic) and Aida (Kelebogile Besong) sing in th

Review: Aida. Beyond the Curtain, February, 2017.

photo: Nick Koon