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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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Opera Review: New Blood for the Old Kingdom

The third cast is the charm for the Met's long-running Aida.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Radàmes (Jorge de Léon, left) and Aida (Krassmira Stoyanova) in Act III of Aida
at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo by Marty Sohl © 2017 The Metropolitan Opera.
Old-time opera goers love the Metropolitan Opera's Aida, for Verdi's sublime melodies and for the big, martial choruses. Tourists, who have opted for this Met's Egyptian experience over the Temple of Dendur uptown, love it for the "sandstone" sets and elaborate Egyptian palaces, adorned with heiroglyphics, and the real horses in Act II. The show balances '80s excess with economical stage design and has played successfully for almost thirty years. It is always spectacular. But at the Met, Aida isn't always...ya know, good.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Superconductor Audio Guide: Ariadne auf Naxos

This comedy was the first Richard Strauss opera to be about...opera. 
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Twmple of Apollo on the Greek island of Naxos.

the world of opera not everything goes as planned.

A case in point: Richard Strauss’ sixth opera and third collaboration with librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The 1912 version of Ariadne auf Naxos was meant to be performed as a pendant to a Hofmannsthal adaptation of the Moliére play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, for which Strauss had written incidental music. Ariadne (planned as a 30 minute divertissement) would be the crowning jewel of the play. Except that Strauss’ opera ran 90 minutes, and when added to the already long Moliére play, the result was an evening longer than Die Meistersinger. 

It was the pair’s first failure. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Opera Review: There's Not a Lot of Money in Revenge

New Amsterdam Opera mounts La Forza del Destino.

Face-off: Tenor Errin Brooks (in profile) confronts baritone Stephen Gaertner
in La Forza del Destino at New Amsterdam Opera. Photo by Bidrum Vabish.

I have a confession to make. Up until yesterday, I had never heard of the New Amsterdam Opera. And then, on Friday afternoon on Facebook, a colleague and fellow critic mentioned that he was going to see their concert performance of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") in the theater at Riverside church that very night. So it was my great pleasure to finds out that conductor Keith Chambers and his company were tackling Verdi’s most challenging opera in a concert performance.

What’s more, they did it with style.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Superconductor Audio Guide: Der Rosenkavalier

Strauss' immortal comedy veers from the bedroom to the drawing-room.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Detail from Rafal Olbinski's poster for the Opera Pacific's production of Der Rosenkavalier.
Art © Rafal Olbinski Estate and Opera Pacific
Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hoffmannsthal are one of the most famous composer-librettist teams of the early 20th century. Der Rosenkavalier ("The Knight of the Silver Rose") which walks the line between raunchy sex farce and polite comedy of manners is the most famous example of their collaboration, matching Strauss' elaborate orchestra to a comic opera that would have made Lorenzo da Ponte proud.

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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.