Posted inReport

Relaxing in the Pressure Cooker

On YouTube, there’s a video of a 1973 concert with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Bernard Haitink performing Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with soloist Artur Rubinstein. It’s an extraordinary concert to hear, between the young Haitink, the 86-year-old Rubinstein, and the orchestra’s signature sound (consistently described as “homogeneous and transparent at the same time”). The […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Sea Major Playlist

A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of killer whales. Since 2020, pods of orcas have been attacking ships and yachts in European waters. As of about a month ago, more than 500 yachts had been attacked off the Iberian Peninsula alone. This summer, other aquatically-inclined mammals have joined their orca comrades (orca-mrades?), with reports from […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Mediums and Messages

As the landscape of Twitter continues to become more gnarled and Mad Maxian, are those who remain becoming more revanchistly retrograde? At this point, between the algorithm and the audacity, you’d think no tweet could still be so remarkable as to invoke a pile-on. Especially now that the app is limiting the amount of tweets […]

Posted inRankings & Roundups

The Opera Fuckboy Matrix

What, exactly, is a fuckboy? When I asked people on what remains of classical Twitter to tell me about their favorite fuckboys in opera, the responses I received showed that, even after a nearly-decade-old debate around the word’s manifold meanings and usage, we’ve yet to reach a consensus.  I’m not here to define the fuckboy. […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Symmetries of Desire

There are tenors who fuck, and then there are tenors who fuck. Sure, hearing Jonas Kaufmann pump out “Winterstürme” is good for some heady thrills, and I wouldn’t not tuck Jussi Björling’s “Ch’ella mi creda” in my hope chest. But let’s talk for a moment about the ténor de grâce. At first blush, they may […]

Posted inProfile

“What Do You Do with It When You Go Home?”

It’s hard to look at Joyce DiDonato as she sits on the stage of Athens’s Megaron Concert Hall, surrounded by 77 children, and not think of Maria von Trapp. “We’ll sit like this, because I want to sing something just for you,” she says during a rehearsal for that evening’s concert, speaking to the children […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Kaija Saariaho Playlist

The world lost a bit of its wonder on June 2, when Kaija Saariaho died at the age of 70 following a battle with glioblastoma. Diagnosed with the aggressive brain cancer in early 2021, Saariaho gave no major announcement about her health, nor did she document the two years of treatment that followed. When she […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Children of History

The late (do I even have to say “great”?) Tina Turner’s first songwriting credit remains an anomaly in her canon: a riff on “City Called Heaven,” with some of the original text interspersed with Turner’s own lyrics. It’s a delicate arrangement, just Turner’s voice in its fathomless low range and Ike Turner’s slightly hollow-sounding blues […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Grace Bumbry Playlist

Inevitably, many of the German obituaries for Grace Bumbry—who died on May 7 at the age of 86—have led with the phrase “Die schwarze Venus,” a reference to her barrier-breaking debut in Bayreuth early in her career. This is understandable (headlines only run so long), but also a shame: It reduces a decades-long career that […]

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