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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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Three Days Grace

The Met and its unions announce a 72-hour lockout delay.
The Met's current situation reminds one of this classic Sydney Pollack thriller.
Promotional image for Three Days of the Condor © 1975 Paramount Pictures.
In a tweet posted at 10:33pm on Thursday night, Wall Street Journal reporter Jennifer Maloney announced that the Metropolitan Opera will delay the lockout of its unions by 72 hours, giving the opera company and its unions three days in which to reach a compromise.


At the 11th hour, the Met and two of its unions agree to explore mediation.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Members of INXS (including the deceased Michael Hutchence, left) show up unexpectedly
at Lincoln Center, where the negotiations between the Metropolitan Opera (left) and its
unions have entered crunch time.
Images of Michael Hutchence, Garry Gary Beers and Jon Farris from the
INXS video "Mediate" © 1987 Atlantic Records.
The Metropolitan Opera and its fifteen unions stand poised on the brink of a lockout that threatens to cancel part or all of the 2014-15 season. However, a report in today's New York Times by Michael Cooper states that a federal mediator is being asked to step into negotiations between Met general manager Peter Gelb and two of the key unions whose collective bargaining agreements expire at midnight tonight.

Monday, July 28, 2014

50 Shades of Negotiations

The Met (and its unions) are heading for a showdown.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Image from © 2014
In the middle of news stories about the current state of negotiations between the Metropolitan Opera and its fifteen unions (whose contracts all expire at midnight on Thursday). Apropos of nothing, last week also saw the release of the trailer for the movie version of E.L. James' kinky romance novel 50 Shades of Grey.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Just One Week 'til Doomsday

The Metropolitan Opera and its unions are headed for the precipice.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The title (with a slight background picture alteration) speaks for itself.
Photo of Peter Gelb's head by Marty Sohl © 2014 The Metropolitan Opera.
Original cover of While The Clock Ticked by Franklin W. Dixon
Artwork © 1932 Grosset and Dunlap. Photo alteration by the author.
With one week left before the July 31 deadline and union contracts for fifteen of the Metropolitan Opera's sixteen unions threatening to expire, both Met general manager Peter Gelb and union representatives have upped the stakes in their war of angry words.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Show Must Go On

The Met labor negotiations and the state of the 2014-15 Metropolitan Opera Preview.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Metropolitan Opera manager Peter Gelb is trying to keep all his balls (and a banana) in the air.
Original image of Peter Gelb © 2014 The Metropolitan Opera. Cartoon image from 

Queen's album Innuendo, based on an image from the French artist J.J. Grandville. 
Logos of AGMA, Local 1 and Local 802 are © the respective unions. 
If you've read Superconductor for a while you know that one of the "trademark" article series on this blog is the extensive and detailed Metropolitan Opera Preview, where we break down all the productions in the coming season and hopefully entertain readers in the process..

Opera Review: Murder by Numbers

The Bolshoi Opera uncorks The Tsar's Bride.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The composer of The Tsar's Bride,Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in a portrait by Valentin Serov.
In Russia, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's 1898 opera The Tsar's Bride is one of his most popular works. However, it is a relative rarity in the United States, and has never been mounted by the Metropolitan Opera. Upon hearing the score, this is a surprise, because this opera, retelling a heavily fictionalized episode in the tumultuous love life of Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible combines the romantic sweep and Russian folk-colorization of Rimsky's best music with a libretto that might have appealed to Giuseppe Verdi.

On July 13, the Bolshoi Opera gave the second of two weekend concert performances of The Tsar's Bride as part of this summer's Lincoln Center Festival. The concert, led by veteran Russian conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky drew a large and enthusiastic audience of Russian opera lovers, but lacked certain elements of energy and theatrical excitement. It didn't help that this vivid and bloody story was confined to the concert stage, with the drab wooden walls of Avery Fisher Hall a poor substitute for the color and pageantry that are integral to this work.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Opera Review: The Young Poisoner's Handbook

Angela Meade's Lucrezia Borgia bows at Caramoor.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Pretty poison: Angela Meade is a deadly Lucrezia Borgia at Caramoor.
Photo by Dario Acosta © 2012
Although Gaetano Donizetti was one of the most prolific and popular composers of the 19th century, only a handful of his 71 operas have survived into the regular repertory of the world's opera houses. A recent revival of interest in bel canto repertory has led to a Donizetti revival, with operas like Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda emerging from the fog of history.

Obituary: Lorin Maazel (1930-2014)

An international conductor with an intellectual bent.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Lorin Maazel conducting the New York Philharmonic.
Photo by Chris Lee © 2013 The New York Philharmonic.
Lorin Maazel, the child prodigy who later became music director of the Vienna State Opera and the New York Philharmonic, died Sunday from complications due to pneumonia. The conductor was 84.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Concert Review: A Bittersweet Symphony

The New York Philharmonic takes Central Park.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Alan Gilbert leads the New York Philharmonic.
This photo is from 2009 because it does not have the ugly new apartment
towersthat are ruining the Central Park South skyline on W. 57th St.
Photo by Chris Lee © 2009 The New York Philharmonic.
The New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks are a celebrated event on this city's summer calendar, as well as a splendid marketing opportunity for Gotham's oldest orchestra. On Thursday night, New Yorkers filled the Great Lawn of Central Park for the first of two performances scheduled for that verdant venue, with press and friends of the orchestra (including yours truly) set forward on folding chairs near the stage and the masses sprawled on picnic blankets to hear the orchestra through a sophisticated audio system.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Opera Review: Hell is Below Decks

The Lincoln Center Festival sends out The Passenger.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The final tableau of The Passenger showing the split-level set.
Photo by Stephanie Berger for the Lincoln Center Festival © 2014.
Mieczyslaw Weinberg was a minor 20th century composer, best remembered for his association with Dmitri Shostakovich, his large output of string quartets and symphonies, and for his film score to Vinnie-Pukh, a distinctly Russian take on the children's story Winnie The Pooh. The Passenger may be his crowning achievement, a searing, intense opera that finds a German diplomat's wife having to confront her past as an overseer in the S.S. assigned to the concentration camp Auschwitz.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Movie Review: A Very Long History of the Clouds

Life, Death and Rebirth in Cloud Atlas.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
My clone sleeps alone: Doona Bae (center) in Cloud Atlas.
Image © 2012 Warner Brothers Pictures.
Here at Superconductor, movie reviews are relatively rare, but I felt compelled to say a few words about Cloud Atlas, the sprawling, rambling and occasionally frustrating effort from 2012 by the director-writer troika of Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run.) It's a long journey and a lot of movie. It shouldn't work, but somehow it ultimately does.

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