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Title Change

Has New York’s Metropolitan Opera, led by manager Peter Gelb since 2006 and probably at once the most beloved and most hated institution in all of classical music, been going through an astonishing rough patch? Or has its visibility simply made it a lightning rod for systemic issues facing the entire field? The last seven […]

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The Birth of a New Ritual

As a child, Alvin Curran would lie in bed at his parents’ Providence, Rhode Island home and listen to the counterpoint between the booms of trains shunting together at a nearby rail yard and foghorns down at the harbor a few miles away. “Was that a piece of music?” I ask him. “Absolutely,” he replies. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Pact with the Dictator

In the summer of 2009, Valery Gergiev organized an exhibition in St. Petersburg called “Wilhelm Furtwängler: Maestro, Man, and Myth” as part of the White Nights Festival. At the opening, Gergiev gave a speech noting that Furtwängler had been attacked all his life because of his biography, yet “he served a great cause with all […]

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The Desire to be Human

Andreas Scholl is one of the best-known German countertenors. His popstar potential can be measured by the fact that he was the first countertenor to be a guest at Last night of the Proms and on a few late-night talk shows. He’s played a key role in shaping the countertenor renaissance of the last 30 […]

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“We Cannot Just Sit and Be Terrified”

In conversation, Ukrainian concert pianist Anna Fedorova is controlled, which belies the expressive style with which she usually plays. Her disposition is unfailingly sweet, and the hint of a kind smile is ever-present—but her face is also understandably lined with stress and sadness, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a follow-up to […]

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Dangerous Symbols

On April 14, the Russian keyboard player Alexei Lubimov and the singer Yana Ivanilova performed a concert at DK Rassvet, a venue in central Moscow which, similar to New York’s (Le) Poisson Rouge, hosts concerts and cultural events and doubles as a club. As Lubimov was performing playing a solo portion of the concert, with […]

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Truth Over Hope

On February 23, one day before Russia invaded Ukraine, Anna Stavychenko, the artistic director of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, spoke with VAN about life in “a constant state of stress” and the importance of music for the Ukrainian identity. Since then, Stavychenko and her family have left their home. She is now commuting between Warsaw […]

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