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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 © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Superconductor Audio Guide: Die Zauberflöte

Mozart’s final opera continues to thrill audiences and befuddle theater directors.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Christopher Maltman as Papageno in the Metropolitan Opera production of Die Zauberflöte.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2016 The Metropolitan Opera.
The first question one should ask when staging or attending a performance of Die Zauberflöte is this: Is Mozart’s final opera a coded Masonic message, a serious opera, or a knockabout comedy meant for the audience of an 18th century music hall?

The answer is, yes, it’s all three.

Concert Review: It’s Done With Mirrors

The Yoshiki Classical Special comes to Carnegie Hall.
The pianist Yoshiki in concert at Carnegie Hall.
Photo by Ken Pierce © 2017 Piercing Metal

Yoshiki is the leader of X Japan, one of the biggest hard rock bands in the history of his native land. On Thursday and Friday last week, the drummer, pianist and composer brought his softer side to two concerts at Carnegie Hall/ And on Friday night, the aptly named Yoshiki Classical Special was filmed for international broadcast. The concert featured Yoshiki at the piano, backed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. The flamboyant pianist struck an heroic figure on the stage, but was polite and even soft-spoken with his fans, who listened to three hours of vocal and instrumental works, most of them featuring his skills at the piano. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Rigoletto

Verdi's great tragedy returns for another round at the Vegas tables.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Željko Lučić sings Rigoletto and all your lounge favorites.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2016 The Metropolitan Opera.
Verdi's tragedy of a hunchback laboring under a curse and the tyrannical rule of his philandering boss, presented here in the strange disguise of two entertainers working in a rug joint on the Las Vegas Strip. Here, the titular jester is an insult comic á la Don Rickles, and his boss is a lounge lizard singer in the mode of Frank Sinatra.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Opera Review: The Way the Big Wheel Spins

The New York City Opera bets the farm on Candide.
The cast of Candide hoofs through "What's the Use?" in Act II of the Leonard
Bernstein comedy. Photo by Sarah Shartz © 2017 The New York City Opera.
In 1982, the legendary Broadway director Hal Prince mounted Leonard Bernstein’s Candide at the New York City Opera. That show did much to salvage the reputation of the composer's most problematic stage work. Candide first came to life as a Broadway musical. It bombed, was rewritten (with a new libretto) and rebuilt an operetta with slight plot differences. The Prince solution was to present a sort of hybrid, a revised, two-act comedy that filtered Voltaire's cynicism through Bernstein's gift for a good tune supported by musical references to most of the major opera composers that had come before.

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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.