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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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Die Zauberflöte

The "composer's cut" of Mozart's final opera.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Here comes the sun king: René Pape as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2014 The Metropolitan Opera.
In the years of general manager Peter Gelb's reign over the Metropolitan Opera House, one of his signature initiatives has been an annual "holiday presentation" of a famous opera, drastically cut to one long act and sung in English. The most frequent masterwork on the chopping block has been Mozart's Die Zauberflöte.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Concert Review: A Storm Cloud of Strings

Laurie Anderson and the Kronos Quartet make Landfall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson (far right) play Landfall.
Photo by Mark Allan © 2014 Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Laurie Anderson and the Kronos Quartet each occupy a unique place in modern music. A fearless performance artist, she destroyed barriers between pop and avant-garde with tracks like "O Superman" and albums like Big Science. Kronos, for their part is at the vanguard of modern music, playing their amplified strings in deep explorations of composers like George Crumb and Terry Riley.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Concert Review: Ahead of the Curve

The New York Philharmonic opens 2014--for real this time.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Alan Gilbert in action. Photo courtesy
Image © 2014 The New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic turned from movie music this week with its first subscription concert at Avery Fisher Hall. This ambitious program paired a new Clarinet Concerto by composer Unsuk Chin with the Symphony No. 1 of former Philharmonic music director Gustav Mahler under the baton of the orchestra's current leader Alan Gilbert.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Opera Broadcast Review: A Wedding Under Protest

The Met opens with a new Le Nozze di Figaro.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Times Square broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's
Le Nozze di Figaro with Ildar Abdrazakov and Marliss Peterson.
 Photo by the author © 2014 Paul J. Pelkonen
Opening night at the Metropolitan Opera is a glitzy, glamorous occasion, with seats in the cavernous auditorium jacked to three times their normal price, an audience of minor celebrities strolling down the red carpet and this year, protestors outside Lincoln Center. Last year, they were against Valery Gergiev, this year they decried the company's planned October  production of the John Adams opera The Death of Klinghoffer.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Concert Review: A Second Climb, up a Treacherous Peak

Christian Tetzlaff opens the 92nd St. Y season with Bach.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Christian Tetzlaff and friend. Photo by Giorgio Bertazzi from the artist's website.
Bach image added by the author.
A performance of all six solo violin works by Johann Sebastian Bach (the three Sonatas and three Partitas) are the musician's equivalent of a climb up K2 without oxygen or rope. On Tuesday night, German violinist Christian Tetzlaff took on this feat (for the second time in five years) at the Kaufmann Concert Hall, a staid but intimate auditorium that is ideal in acoustic and scale for this kind of performance. This performance also served as season opener for the prestigious Upper East Side venue, a fact celebrated with the distribution of free champagne to the audience at intermission.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Lucia di Lammermoor

High notes and high tragedy in the Highlands.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Joseph Calleja is Edgardo in the Met's revival of Lucia di Lammermoor.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
The bride of Lammermoor returns to the Met stage, in Mary Zimmerman's entertaining yet controversial production.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Alters Rush Ticket Policy

Or...why Superconductor will probably not be covering the Met anymore.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
New changes in the Metropolitan Opera 2014-15 Rush Ticket Policy make reviewing
performances in the coming season all but impossible.
The Metropolitan Opera announced today that its Rush Tickets program is being drastically altered for the 2014-15 season. The revised ticket program designed (according to the press release) to allow "expanded, more democratic access to Met tickets for $25" means that Superconductor will most likely not
be covering or reviewing most Metropolitan Opera performances in the 2014-15 season.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Concert Review: Reunited With Minimal Fuss

Steve Reich and Philip Glass open BAM NextWave--together.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Across the great divide: the composers Philip Glass (left) and Steve Reich.
Photo courtesy Nonesuch Records.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Philip Glass and Steve Reich were friends and sometimes collaborators. A rift between the two men resulted in each becoming a separate driving force behind minimalism, a compositional style that favored small melodic cells, expanded, repeated and grown into huge crystalline structures that beguiled the ear and soothed the mind. Both men are now 77, and have ended their forty-year feud. On Tuesday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music,  the composers took the stage together for the first time in decades.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Hansel and Gretel

The Metropolitan Opera revives a nightmare before Christmas.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Appetizer for destruction: Robert Brubaker returns as the Witch in the Met's
revival of Hansel and Gretel. Photo by Marty Sohl © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera.
When I was growing up, the Met's production of Hansel and Gretel (by Otto Schenk) was something to see, with a gorgeous gingerbread house, imaginative animal costumes, and a dream ballet featuring realistic-looking angels that brought tears to the eyes of the most jaded adult. For decades, Engelbert Humperdinck's fairy-tale opera stood as a stalwart family favorite at the Metropolitan Opera House, as traditional as the massive tree that adorns the Grand Tier promenade in December.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Preview: La traviata

The little red dress returns. 
by Paul J. Pelkonen
A boy, a girl and a timepiece. Marina Poplavskaya (right) in La Traviata.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2010 The Metropolitan Opera.
This stripped-down Willy Decker staging of La Traviata (introduced at the very end of 2010)
eliminates the elegance of 19th century Paris for a bare, clinical room, a single curved bench and a giant clock that ticks down the remaining minutes in the life of Violetta, the courtesan who is at the heart of Verdi's most intimate tragedy.

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