Posted inEssay

Method Singing

“Operatic performers quickly learn how to make a declaration of love, to suffer, to meditate, to die, and so on, and they repeat these forms in all analogous situations that they happen to be in. These are well-known, rubber-stamp effects. Nearly everyone knows them all, and speaks of them scornfully, yet…a majority of singers go […]

Posted inPlaylist

A “Ulysses” Playlist

James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses has hummed with sound for one hundred years. “Mrkgnao!” goes Leopold Bloom’s cat while he makes breakfast; “Pprrpffrrppffff” goes his posterior after dinner later. We hear the chattering of the telegraph in the “Aeolus’” episode, the clattering of cutlery and clinking of glasses as Bloom eats and drinks his way […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Still Somewhere

Alexandre Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow: “Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2” (BIS) Joanna Goodale: “Debussy in Resonance” (Paratay) Lavinia Meijer: “Are You Still Somewhere?” (Sony) As the composer himself tells the story, when Camille Saint-Saëns was six years old, he composed a romance for a singer. The 12-bar work left its interpreter’s father […]

Posted inInterview

The Dream Place

I first met the director Barrie Kosky when he wrote me asking if I would help him conceive of a spectacular pageant to open the 2026 Gay Games, an LGBTQ+ sporting event that, at the time, the city of Munich was vying to host. Kosky had been engaged to develop the opening ceremonies if Munich […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

A Little Tenderness

Reinis Zarins: “Pēteris Vasks: Solo Works” (Ondine) Nicky Spence, Christopher Glynn: “Schubert: The Fair Maid of the Mill” (Signum) Overheard last week in Tempelhof Field—a public park fashioned, in true Berliner style, out of an abandoned airport:  “I hate it here.” “Berlin?”“No, this plane of existence.” A relatable feeling. Fortunately, there’s a new Pēteris Vasks recording. […]

Posted inEssay

Metaphysical Relief

In September, the legendary German filmmaker, author, actor, opera director, and skateboarding-opinion-haver Werner Herzog turns 80. Herzog’s use of music in his films is noticeably more eclectic and more surprising than that of most of his director colleagues, according to our contributor Thomas von Steinaecker, who is currently finishing a documentary on the artist.  A […]

Posted inInterview

The Never-Ending Task

After 19 years leading the Minnesota Orchestra, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä will be saying goodbye this month, with performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 from June 10 to 12 and a “farewell celebration” on June 17. His tenure with the orchestra—and especially the recordings he’s made with the group—have been almost universally acclaimed: It took […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Not Even Past

Kronos Quartet, Rinde Eckert, Vân-Ánh Võ: “Mỹ Lai” (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) David T. Little, Royce Vavrek, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, NOVUS NY, Mellissa Hughes: “Am I Born” (Bright Shiny Things) Back in September 2016—in an only slightly saner world—novelist Lionel Shriver gave a keynote at the Brisbane Writers Festival. The festival’s organizers had […]

Posted inInterview

Is Wagner Addictive?

Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., is a retired specialist in addiction medicine and a cofounder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The first person to write about AIDS in the U.S. press, he is the author of Homosexuality and Sexuality: Dialogues of the Sexual Revolution, Volume 1, and Homosexuality as Behavior and Identity: Dialogues of The Sexual […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

For Your (Re)consideration

Patricia Petibon, La Cetra, Andrea Marcon: “La Traversée” (Sony) BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo, Peter Donohoe: “Dora Pejačević: Piano Concerto & Symphony” (Chandos) Giulia Semenzato, Kammerorchester Basel: “Angelica Diabolica” (Alpha) We’re in the middle of a renaissance for historically-maligned women: Tonya Harding, Monica Lewinsky, Britney Spears, Lorena Bobbitt, and Pamela Anderson are among those whose […]