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 inInterview

Winter Words

Garth Greenwell is a remarkable novelist. Like vocal lines, his sentences explode with vibrating, irrepressible energy while still assuming classically beautiful forms. What Belongs To You (2016), his debut novel, about collisions between guilt, grief, desire, and openness in the relationship between an American high school teacher and a Bulgarian hustler, was long-and short-listed for […]

Posted inReview

Bursting Through Confines

The first thing I saw was groups of soldiers. Aix-en-Provence, a wealthy tourist resort and college town, is not their primary target, and France is only the latest in a long series of countries to be occupied by the French military. But they were everywhere: at the airport in baggage claim, flanking the exit to […]

Posted inReview

Walls Stay Down

Mahler’s Sixth Symphony—90-odd minutes of descent, disintegration, mad marching—is not a festive piece. The cameo-studded, light-hearted party-concerts for Simon Rattle’s departure as Music Director of the Berlin Philharmonic had come and gone, and now it was time for serious music-making. This was, the program informed 2000-odd Berliners of reassuringly mixed age and dress, the piece […]

Posted inOpinion

Shush Money

In December, James Levine was fired from his emeritus music directorship at the Metropolitan Opera, after five men stepped forward to credibly accuse him of sexual assault when they were teenagers and young adults, over a period ranging from the 1970s to the 1990s. Some might have expected him to recede into the background. Instead, […]

Posted inInterview

The Art Of Somebody Else

Donald Runnicles is an imposing man, he stands tall and has a booming voice with a slight Scottish accent. Music director of the Deutsche Oper since 2009, when he arrived in the middle of a financial crisis in which the house was almost merged or downsized, he has attracted rave reviews for new productions of […]

Posted inReview

Awful Magic

Our times are full of peculiar things,” Carlotta sings in the first act of Franz Schreker’s 1918 expressionist psychothriller, “Die Gezeichneten.” She is referring to a woman who paints hands—delicate ladies’ palms, fat workingmen’s fists—but by the end of the evening she will have found herself (at least in Calixto Bieito’s new staging at the […]

Posted inEssay

Silence, Breaking

When I was 12 years old, James Levine began his tenure as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. My father was a cellist there. This is not an essay about abuse—I never met James Levine. This is an essay about what happens when knowledge is warped by a cult of interpretive genius. It is […]

Posted inReview

Beckmesser’s Dream

A pogrom unfolds on the streets of Nuremberg. It’s the end of Act II of Barrie Kosky’s new production of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” at the Bayreuth Festival. Elsewhere in the piece, Hans Sachs sings that “all poems and verse are just the interpretation of dreams.” In some sense this production represents Beckmesser’s dream, or […]

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