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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Concert Review: As the Puppets Dance

The New York Philharmonic presents A Dancer's Dream.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The puppets dance in Petrushka as Alan Gilbert conducts A Dancer's Dream.
Photo by Chris Lee © 2013 New York Philharmonic.
All the viral videos, cross-marketing and pre-event hype in the last two weeks from the marketing department of the New York Philharmonic failed to capture the brilliance and breadth of imagination present in A Dancer's Dream, seen on Thursday night at Avery Fisher Hall. This is the third and most recent collaboration between the orchestra and Doug Fitch, the director and puppeteer behind the Brooklyn-based theater company Giants Are Small.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Le Nozze di...Tutti

DOMA, Prop 8 annihilated by Supreme Court.
"You need to figure out if you are living in a comedy or a tragedy. A tragedy means you die at the end. In a comedy, you get married." --Dr. Jules Hilbert, Stranger Than Fiction
Wotan (John Tomlinson, right) finds himself celebrating equality in the Magic Fire Scene
from Act III of Die Walküre. Original image © 1988 Bayreuth Festspiele, photoshop by the author.
Here at Superconductor, it is a happy day.

This post is to spread the good word: the Supreme Court has struck down the repellend Defense of Marriage Act in a 5-4 decision. The majority opinion was delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy with dissent from Justices Roberts, Scalia and Alito. 

Forty-five minutes later, the SCOTUS ruled against Proposition 8, stating that the California statute had "no standing." 

Like I said, it's been a good day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Concert Review: Journey Into Modernity

The New York Philharmonic plays Haydn, Wagner and Rouse.
by Ellen Fishbein
Alan Gilbert. Photo from
The New York Philharmonic is reaching the last stages of its current Gilbert's Playlist mini-festival. On Thursday night, the program was a collision of Joseph Haydn, current composer-in-residence Christopher Rouse and Richard Wagner. The combination, in the words of music director Alan Gilbert, sparked "artistic electricity."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Superconductor Summer Festival Preview Part II

The Lincoln Center Festival, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and Mostly Mozart.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

In the summer months, Lincoln Center transforms into a bustling hub of social activity for music-loving New Yorkers. We break down the avant-garde offerings of the Lincoln Center Festival, New York Philharmonic's summer concerts, the Metropolitan Opera's summer screening program and the venerable Mostly Mozart Festival, transforming this Upper West Side plaza into a sort of Salzburg on the Hudson.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Superconductor Summer Festival Preview Part I

What's on at Caramoor, Bard College and the Glimmerglass Festival.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Opera in the summer north of New York isn't quite this idyllic.
Image: The Orchard by Hudson River School painter Whittredge Worthington.
The concert season is (finally) ending and New Yorkers are getting ready for a slew of summer concerts and festivals. We here at Superconductor would like to offer a preview of what's hot in the hottest weeks of the year. We start the  breakdown of the major classical music, opera and modern music festivals with goings-on just north of New York City.

Opera Review: Slaughter on 12th Avenue

On Site Opera presents Blue Monday at The Cotton Club.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Before the bullets fly: Joe (Chase Taylor) and Vi (Alyson Cambridge) canoodle in the Cotton Club.
Photo by Richard Termine © 2013 On Site Opera.
The current incarnation of Harlem's fabled Cotton Club may be an echo of the establishment's heyday, when Duke Ellington led the orchestra and Fletcher Henderson reigned supreme. But on Monday night, Eric Einhorn's young opera company On Site Opera made the Harlem venue culturally relevant again with a production of Blue Monday, the 1922 one-act jazz opera by one George Gershwin.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Opera Review: She’s Toxic, He's Slipping Under

Gotham Chamber Opera presents La Hija de Rappaccini.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Pretty poison: Elaine Alvarez is Beatriz in La Hija de Rappacini.
Photo by Richard Termine © 2013 Gotham Chamber Opera.
The opera season may be at its end, but New York's opera lovers have a few more treats in store. On Monday night, Gotham Chamber Opera unveiled its al fresco production of Daniel Catán’s 1988 opera La Hija de Rappaccini (Rappacini's Daughter.) This Spanish-language opera is not new to New Yorkers, but this is a new production, presented on the Cherry Esplanade at the heart of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Superconductor Interview: Eric Einhorn

The director brings Blue Monday to Harlem's historic Cotton Club.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The sign of the historic Cotton Club. Image from FotoPedia.
In order for opera to evolve, it has escaped from the stuffy confines of the opera house.

The last five years have seen an uptick in the number of companies willing to take chances and present opera outside its usual venue. From coffee barges moored off of Red Hook to the landscaped walks of the Bronx Zoo, opera is busting out all over.

One young company that is taking advantage of this trend is Eric Einhorn's On Site Opera, a troupe devoted to performing rare repertory in unconventional locations. This Tuesday, OSO will present its second show: George Gershwin's jazz opera Blue Monday on the hallowed dance floor of The Cotton Club in Harlem.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Concert Review: His Future's So Bright...

Lionel Bringuier conducts the New York Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Conductor Lionel Bringuler. From
The 21st century has seen the rise of a new breed of conductor. Debonair, talented, and above all, young, these nascent maestros have been given powerful positions within the cutthroat world of classical music, taking over major orchestras before reaching their fourth decade.

Thursday night at the New York Philharmonic featured an even younger conductor, the 26-year-old French sensation Lionel Bringuier. Mr. Bringuier is the net music director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, a venerable Swiss ensemble that happens to be one of the world's better recording orchestras. For these concerts, Mr. Bringuier offered a four-course meal of 20th century classics.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Back To Rewrite

Superconductor meets Gizoogle.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The other day, following the lead of friend-of-the-blog Lauren Flanigan, I ran the front page of Superconductor through a website called This was the highly entertaining result:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Opera Review: Sex Crime

Opera Philadelphia mounts Powder Her Face.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Patricia Schuman as Margaret Campbell, the "dirty Duchess."
Photo by Kelly & Massa, © 2013 Opera Philadelphia.
For better or worse, the excessive lifestyle, erotic exploits and 1963 divorce proceedings of the late Margaret Campbell, the former Duchess of Argyll established the British tabloid as a journalistic institution. Thirty years later, Mrs. Campbell's tawdry affairs inspired a young British composer, Thomas Adés, to make the so-called "dirty Duchess" the subject of his first opera, Powder Her Face.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ring! Ring! It's Rossini Calling!

Cell phone follies at La Scala recital.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Gioachino Rossini and his little digital friend.
Anybody who goes to classial music concerts or opera performances knows that the modern, digital age has introduced the annoyance of cellular ring tones as unwanted accompaniment to the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Rossini. But on Sunday night, opera star Joyce DiDonato found a new way of coping with the digital menace.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Concert Review: A Genuine Crossover

Erykah Badu and the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Soul diva Erykah Badu emotes as Alan Pierson conducts the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
Photo by Alvina Lai © 2013 The Brooklyn Philharmonic.
The classical crossover, combining a traditional symphony orchestra with popular music can be a difficult proposition. Do it wrong and you're accused of trivializing the skills of the players. Hit the wrong pitch and critics will say you're pandering to the masses. On Saturday night, the Alan Pierson and the Brooklyn Philharmonic did neither in the first of two concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, with neo-soul diva (and this year's artist-in-residence) Erykah Badu.

There was a lot of publicity leading up to Saturday night's concert. And there were some important questions:

  •  Would the leggy singer's brew of jazz, funk, soul and rap mesh or clash with the orchestra? 
  • Would the complex messages of her songs (drawn from the album New Amerykah Pt. 1: Fourth World War) get lost in a soup of orchestration? 
  • Finally, what would Ms. Badu (known for head wraps and exotic Afro-centric fashion statements) be wearing?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Strings on a Plane

The Philadelphia Orchestra play Dvořák in close quarters.

Just up on YouTube, footage of the Fabulous Philadelphians coping with a long plane delay in the middle of their tour of China. They're playing the last movement of Dvořák's American Quartet.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Opera Review: The Lockdown

The New York Philharmonic exercises Il Prigioniero.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Alan Gilbert. Photo by Chris Lee © 2011 The New York Philharmonic.
It is a universal conceit that no worthy Italian operas were written after Turandot, the last (and unfinished) opera of Giacomo Puccini. The development of so-called "serial" or modern music and the rise of Fascism in Italy conspired to put an end to four centuries of that country's most famous art form.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Concert Review: Jazz Odyssey, Part II

Gilbert's Playlist opens with Wynton Marsalis' Swing Symphony.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Meeting of the minds: Wynton Marsalis (left) and Alan Gilbert share a moment.
Photo by Chris Lee for © 2013 The New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic are back for a month-long stand at Avery Fisher Hall. On Saturday night, the orchestra played the final concert in the first weekend of Gilbert's Playlist, the month-long festival centered around the contents of music director Alan Gilbert's hard drive. The concert explored the amorphous territory between jazz and 20th century classical music, and featured the first subscription performances of Wynton Marsalis' Symphony No. 3, dubbed the Swing Symphony by the trumpeter turned composer.

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