The Round Up | 11 03 2018

It's been a bit too long since I've done a round up, but I'm keen to note everything I've been hearing/watching/experiencing in the last week. A few weekends ago I went up north to hear Ballo in Maschera with Opera North. I’d forgotten just how magnificent it is. 

Listen here

Lebrecht interviewed Jonas Kaufmann where they touched on #metoo in opera. I'm filing this under 'interesting to read, won't change your life, worth reading to feed into the larger debate'.  

This however, did. I don't always love Lena Dunham, but I do love her when she writes about things that she knows. The latest article she wrote for vogue is extraordinary. 

I actually left this link in my filing for me to discover and read later - as I'd run out of free copies from the New York Times when I came across it. No, I haven't subscribed (trying to cut down). I think Nico Muhly is one of the most interesting composers working at the moment. His work has a vivacious quality, a sense of space, wonder and playfulness. I hate using the word 'sound', because, well, what is his sound? I'm certainly not adept enough to write about it, that's why I read Alex Ross. 

I heard his opera 'Marnie' earlier in the year at English National Opera, and I really hope that he continues to have opportunities to write operatic works. Like other notable composers, Muhly finds sounds that feel familiar to my ear, but haven't ever been articulated in that manner before. Or perhaps they have, and that's his real gift. I won't review Marnie - that's not my role, but I did feel that the dramatic structure and musical structure wasn't fused in a way that elevated the piece as a masterwork. 

Last weekend I went to the Royal Academy's King Charles exhibition. I took home a postcard of 'Lady in Green'. She's just that. Sublime with a Mona Lisa smile, and situated about my desk at home, looking over my pretty amateur attempts at art. 

In my Barbican wanderings, I had the extreme fortune to hear Jake Heggie's  Dead Man Walking. I have to confess I didn't know Heggie's music much at all. The work is the same story as the movie Dead Man Walking, and I really pondered this piece as I thought it succeeded where Marnie stumbled. This work understands the importance of music working in harmony with the drama of the story of the piece, and as a result, some of the greatest emotional heights in the piece have barely anything scored at all - or something incredibly simplistic. But not less powerful. 

Other readings: 

The Trouble With Opera. Isn't there always trouble with opera? 

The Goldfinch is coming - with added Nicole Kidman. 

This interview on Jacinda Ardern will help you forget the 60 minutes monstrosity. 

The proms take a stand