Posted inInterview

A Hero’s Journey

Editor’s note: A few weeks after announcing his retirement from the opera stage due to incurable bile duct cancer, tenor Stephen Gould died at the age of 61 on September 19, 2023. Gould met with VAN writer Volker Hagedorn in early 2019 while headlining “Tannhäuser” at the Dresden Semperoper. In honor of the singer, much-loved […]

Posted inEssay

Gated Debussy

The Paris Métro’s Line One to Étoile is pretty crowded this afternoon. There are slightly fewer smartphones than there were a couple of years ago; a few passengers are even reading books. Line Two is next, almost empty, and just two stops to Porte Dauphine, where the train disappears into the tunnel as I emerge […]

Posted inOpinion

The Mystic Void

The term Wagnerian never applied to me, though Bayreuth holds a special place in the family lore. In the 1950s, a rare honor was bestowed upon my grandfather: along with the other chosen ones, he was permitted to play his violin in the theater’s “mystic void.” (Also known as the pit.) When I went to […]

Posted inEssay

Marble and Marzipan

40 years ago, Wolfgang Hildesheimer wrote a long-form essay, Mozart, that freed his namesake from the marble of statues and the marzipan coatings of candies. The open-ended structure of the work makes so much new writing look older than its years. Every time a new book comes out, it eclipses 10 older ones. One may […]

Posted inEssay

The Soul Must Descend From Its Mount

I haven’t composed anything in three years,” he laughed, “too lazy!” That was two years ago. Klaus Huber was 90, and knew full well that his oeuvre was complete. He took another Mozarella in Carozza and a sip of prosecco, and blinked in the north-German April sun—already anticipating, perhaps, the summer at his house in […]

Posted inInterview

The Berliozians

Behind the fabulous website, turning 20 this year, is not a team of French musicologists, but rather a pair of retired academics in Edinburgh, Scotland. Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin live in a quite street which traces its origins back to the 18th century. In the living room, above two large computers, hangs a […]

Posted inInterview

The Abyss

With his beard and penetrating eyes, Georg Nigl looks a bit like Hugo Wolf. In rehearsal, he sings, whispers, growls—Hans Neuenfels, the 76-year-old director of Manfred Trojahn’s opera “Orest,” can barely tame the extreme moods of the baritone, and the rehearsal is viscerally exciting. At breaks, the two get together for a smoke. The premiere […]

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