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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.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

No One is Coming to Save Elsa

Tenor Roberto Alagna pulls out of Lohengrin.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The next swan will not be arriving for Roberto Alagna, who is out of the new Bayreuth Lohengrin.

In a breaking story from the Bayreuth Festival, tenor Roberto Alagna will not be singing the title role in the company's production of Lohengrin. His excuse: insufficient rehearsal. According to the official statement on the Bayreuth Festspieleblog: "Mr. Alagna has to cancel the new  Lohengrin production because he was unable to rehearse the work sufficiently due to congestion."

Friday, June 29, 2018

Concert Review: The Return Rate of Sequels

U2 return to Madison Square Garden
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Just a small band from Dublin: Adam Clayton (right) Bono (center) and The Edge (right) rock Madison Square Garden
Photo by Susan Weinstein, who also got us the tickets.
Most giant rock tours don't get a sequel. An exception is the epic stage production by the Irish band U2, who brought their new "Experience and Innocence" tour to Madison Square Garden on Monday night. This tour is a follow-up to the band's "Innocence and Experience" trek of 2015, and is in support of their new (and thirteenth) studio record Songs of Experience. (Warning, review contains major set list spoilers.)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Turn Around and Take Me Back To the Start

Some reflections on Beethoven, the Eroica and my summer vacation.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Detail from The Knight in Shining Armor: Pity and Ambition
by Gustav Klimt as appears on the cover of the Beethoven Symphony No. 3 recording reviewed herein.
Art and rendering © 1987 DG/UMG

Hi all. I'm back after a relaxing, grounding and enervating week in the woods of Northern Maryland. Today we are talking about Beethoven, and specifically a new to me recording of the Eroica Symphony which I am listening to as I type. This is an old (but new to me) recording of Beethoven's 'Eroica' Symphony, made in 1987 by the Vienna Philharmonic. No, that's not terribly "old" in a business with historic recordings that go back to the turn of the 20th century, but it is definitely the product of another time. The conductor is the late and brilliant Claudio Abbado, who would later record these same symphonies in his job as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic is the conductor here and there is much of interest in this performance.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer Festival Preview: Mostly Mozart 2018

Bigger, Better, Faster, but still Mostly Mozart.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Louis Langree (back to camera) leads the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
When the time came for Lincoln Center to choose between its two signature summer festivals, there was no question: it was Mostly Mozart that had the brand recognition. For 51 years, this month-long festival held the stage at what is now David Geffen Hall, a haven of culture for New York music lovers who were unable or unwilling to leave the city in the summer months.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Great Recitals and Concerts: Spring 2018

Superconductor breaks down the best recitals, performances and even a play.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

It's not all symphonies and operas. Here at Superconductor we also try to cover smaller and more intimate performances where you find see and hear some of the best music on offer in and around New York City. Here are the best of the spring season of 2018.

Great Concert Performances: Spring 2018

Here's the best of the best from the second half of the season.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

Another spring season has rolled to a close and Superconductor is here to look back at terrific symphony concerts and some scintillating and caffeinated reviews. Here's the honor roll of the best of 2018 (so far, anyway.)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Verdi Project: Aida

Love, warfare, intrigue and oh yes, the pyramids.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
A performance of Aida in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza, March 2018.

Throughout his career, Giuseppe Verdi was determined to follow in the footsteps of other Italian composers (most notably Rossini and Donizetti) and conquer the Parisian stage. However, his attempts at grand opera: Jerusalemme, Les vepres Sicilienes and Don Carlos were met with indifference. It was with Aida, set to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni that Verdi would incorporate the lessons of grand opera in a work that combines private anguish and public spectacle and still packs opera houses today.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Great Opera Performances: Spring 2018

Here's the best of the best from the second half of the season.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

This was an incredibly busy and fascinating few months in the New York opera community. Big houses like the Met sailed forth with good efforts even as they found themselves in a swirling sea of scandal. The Prototype Festival had a strong showing, and a performance of Tristan und Isolde gave compelling reasons to travel to Cleveland, Ohio. Here's the best of 2018 so far.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Concert Review: Look, No Hands!

New York Polyphony closes out the 92nd St Y season.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Geoffrey Williams, Steven Caldicott Wilson, Christopher Dylan Herbert and Craig Philips: New York Polyphony.
Photo from the artists' website.
The 92nd St. Y ended its music programming for the current and rapidly fading season last Friday, with a concert featuring the men of New York Polyphony in what the singers: Geoffrey Williams, Steven Caldicott Wilson, Christopher Dylan Herbert and Craig Philips, referred to as a rare hometown show.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Concert Review: All Within Her Hands

Kariné Poghosyan plays damned difficult stuff at Zankel Hall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Kariné Poghosyan in concert at Zankel Hall. Photo by Jonathan Levin. 
The season is winding down but there are still some extraordinary artists to be heard (and covered) in the pages of Superconductor. On Thursday night, it was the New York-based Armenian-born pianist Kariné Poghosyan, playing her first recital at Zankel Hall, the subterranean concert venue that sits underneath Carnegie Hall.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Concert Review: Mr. Thomas' Neighborhood

MTT conducts the MET Orchestra in the Carnegie season closer.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
She's a pretty Yende. Soprano Pretty Yende made her big stage debut in Stern Auditorium
on Tuesday night. Photo © 2017 Nachtigall Artists.

Carnegie Hall ended its 2017-18 season Tuesday night with the last of three concerts featuring the MET Orchestra. This year, the pit band at the Metropolitan Opera has been playing under a succession of different conductors. This one was conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. The music director of the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Thomas (or "MTT" as he is known to all) will serve next year as a Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist, and is scheduled to lead his California forces in the Opening Night concert on October 3.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Concert Review: A String of Pearls

Harlem Chamber Players celebrate a decade with Harlem Songfest.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Harlem Chamber Players (above) conductor David Gilbert
and five fine singers celebrated ten years of music at Miller Theater.
It was billed as Harlem Songfest, but the season-ending tenth anniversary concert of the Harlem Chamber Players was more in the nature of an operatic gala: albeit one on a very modest scale. The celebration, a mix of Verdi, Mozart, Bizet and other operatic favorites was held at the Miller Theater on Friday evening, celebrating the good works of this excellent community orchestra that calls northern Manhattan its home.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Concert Review: The Bare Necessities

The New York Philharmonic ends its season without a conductor....without a conductor.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Concertmaster Frank Huang (center) led the New York Philharmonic this week.
Photo by Chris Lee © 2018 The New York Philharmonic.

Things are settling down at America’s oldest orchestra. Alan Gilbert left the New York Philharmonic a year ago. Jaap van Zweden arrives in a cloud of hullabaloo next September. That said, this particular review, of Friday's matinee performance of their last program of this current season was played without a conductor. This program of string pieces by Mozart and Tchaikovsky had no tuxedo-clad maestro, and there was no post-heroic beating of air with tiny sticks.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Opera Review: The Sod Couple

The New York City Opera climbs Brokeback Mountain.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Save a horse: Daniel Oklutich (right) embraces Glenn Seven Allen in a scene from Brokeback Mountain.
Photo by Sarah Shatz for New York City Opera © 2018
Ten years ago,  New York City Opera commissioned composer Charles Wuorinen to write an opera based on Anne Proulx' short story Brokeback Mountain, which had been made into a much-lauded film by Ang Lee just three years before. That version of City Opera failed and folded, and the opera premiered in Madrid in 2014. On Thursday night, Mr. Wuorinen's Brokeback Mountain (with a libretto by Ms. Proulx) finally had its North American premiere at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater, mounted by the new New York City Opera run by impresario Michael Capasso.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats