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Friday, December 30, 2011

2012: The Road to Apocalypse

12 Survival Tips for the Months Ahead.
The technical term for this is... 
Tetragrammatonophobia. We think.

The Mayan calendar predicted that the world ends in 2012.

According to the opera schedule, the Mayans were right. 

On Jan. 27, Robert Lepage unveils his version of Götterdämmerung, the last opera in Wagner's Ring. With floods, collapsing castles, and large supernaturally powered fires, the Ring is the ultimate operatic disaster movie. But while you're stocking up on canned Goya® beans, tomato sauce and Sterno™, there's some great music to be heard in the next six months. Here's a quick look:

John Cage turns 100
The Juilliard FOCUS! Festival celebrates the centennial of this marvelous maverick composer with "Sounds Re-Imagined: John Cage at 100".  four concerts worth of Cage's compositions.  Featured works include Third Construction, the Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra, and the Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra. (Juilliard School, opens Jan. 27)

If you think this city's Wagnerians are excited about upcoming performances of Götterdämmerung, that's got nothing on the buzz for a rare reading of Rienzi, the early Wagner grand opera that chronicles a "man of the people" (Ian Storey) and his rise and fall from power. No word on whether the tribune is considering a try for the Republican nomination. Eve Queler conducts. (Lincoln Center--Avery Fisher Hall. Jan. 29)

Philip Glass turns 75.
The American Composers Orchestra (led by alumni conductor Dennis Russell Davies) presents the world premiere of the Ninth Symphony by Mr. Glass. Also on the program, a rare New York performance of Lamentate by Estonian composer (and fellow minimalist) Arvo Pärt. (Carnegie Hall, Jan. 31)

Berlin Philharmonic: The Complete Bruckner Ninth
The Berliners make a long-awaited return to New York with Bruckner's last work, the Ninth Symphony, Here, the piece is performed with a completion of the final movement, which the composer was working on when he died. Sir Simon Rattle conducts. (Carnegie Hall, Feb. 24)

Modest Mussorgsky's unfinished opera looks at the 18th century Russian equivalent of the 99%. Khovanshchina ("The Khovansky Affair") depicts the rise of Tsar Peter I ("the Great") by killing off everybody who could possibly oppose him. Presented here in the completion by Dmitri Shostakovich, this is one of the most powerful political operas ever made. (Metropolitan Opera, opens Feb. 27)

New York Philharmonic: The Modern Beethoven
This three-week spring festival at the Philharmonic features conductor David Zinman presenting six of the Beethoven symphonies in the new (2007) critical editions published by Bärenreiter-Verlag. Each concert matches Beethoven's music with a modern work by Stravinsky, Samuel Barber, and Karl Amadeus Hartmann. (Lincoln Center--Avery Fisher Hall, opens March 1)

Metropolitan Opera: L'Elisir d'Amore
The Met is probably going to replace this charming production of L'Elisir with something set on a haunted space vessel marooned out near Neptune. But before that event comes on the horizon, enjoy this revival pairing Juan Diego Flórez and Diana Damrau. (Metropolitan Opera, opens March 5)

American Symphony Orchestra: Notre Dame
Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra present a rarely heard adaptiation of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Franz Schmidt is an Austrian composer in the Bruckner mold, whose brass-heavy music is beloved by horn players and deserves to be played and heard more often. (Carnegie Hall, March 18)

Gotham Chamber Opera: Il Sogno di Scipione
Gotham Chamber Opera's spring offering is a rare revival for this company as it celebrates ten years of music making. GCO will revive its very first show, a production of this rarely heard Mozart opera. A one-act work, Il Sogno di Scipione (Scipio's Dream) was written when the composer was just 15. (John Jay College--Gerald W. Lynch Theater, opens April 11)

Metropolitan Opera: The Makropoulos Case
The Met opens a short run of this powerful Janáček opera with Karita Mattila in the title role--as a 300 year old opera singer seeking one last gulp of immortality. This is one of the Met's best productions, a brilliant mystery story with a science fiction edge. Highly recommended.  (Metropolitan Opera, opens April 27)

Bang on a Can turns 25.
This ensemble celebrates the artistic and performance revolution that they started in a SoHo art gallery 25 years ago. This concert features Tire Fire by BOAC director Evan Zyporyn, a new work by Tatsuya Yoshida and the U.S. premiere of the Bang on a Can All-Stars' Field Recordings. At (Lincoln Center--Alice Tully Hall, April 28)

Cleveland Orchestra: Salome
Carnegie Hall plays host to the bloody harmonies of Richard Strauss' biblical drama. Nina Stemme plays the girl who gets whatever she wants. Franz Welser-Möst conducts what will probably be one of the best opera events of the spring season. (Carnegie Hall, May 27)

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.