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The Young Adult Self-Insert Fanfic “Magic Flute”

For those with no knowledge of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final singspiel, the poster and cast list of Florian Sigl’s new film version of “The Magic Flute” (produced by Roland Emmerich—of “Independence Day” fame and “Moonfall” infamy) might raise some questions. For those familiar with the (incomprehensible) plot of “The Magic Flute,” featuring bird men (and […]

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Ode to the Jungle

Welcome, welcome to Garden Europa! Well, no, not welcome exactly—because you cannot be allowed enter—but welcome to the fence. Peer just over the wire. Look, isn’t it beautiful? Everything’s clean, everything works! And listen, listen to this: our anthem, our glorious anthem, the height, the apotheosis of music—of culture!—itself: Beethoven’s (surely you’ve heard of him?) […]

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The Indifferent Cosmos

In July 1996, Gérard Grisey was at work on the first movement of what would be his final composition, the “Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil”  (“Four songs for crossing the threshold”) when he made a note to himself in his journal. “If I ever compose an opera,” he wrote, “make the stakes and the […]

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Is This What You Wanted?

“Is this what you wanted,” Leonard Cohen asks in the refrain of his eponymous song, “to live in a house that is haunted by the ghost of you and me?” With the Bayreuth Festival traditionally opening the house for each performance by having members of the orchestra’s brass section play an appropriate snippet of the […]

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Gazing in the Dirt

The concept of resurrection presupposes a well-established order of things: life, death, burial, remembrance, and then finally the call to rise again, this time unto eternity. The structure of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 mostly follows that order. But what happens when there’s a fundamental disturbance, even breakdown in this arrangement? When a decent death and burial […]

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 Love, Anger, Agency

Kate Molleson begins Sound within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the Twentieth Century with a loud call for change. “I write this book out of love and anger. The love, because I want to shout from the rooftops that classical music is gripping, essential, personally and politically game changing. The anger, because I can’t shout proudly about a […]

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Song of the Goats

Watching a Yorgos Lanthimos film invariably leads to esoteric questions. Via “Dogtooth”: Why are you calling an armchair a “sea”? From “The Lobster”: If you had to be irreversibly changed into an animal, which one would you pick? And, thanks to Lanthimos’s new short, “Bleat,” co-commissioned by the Greek National Opera and cultural nonprofit NEON: […]

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Infiltrating Justice

Heartbeat Opera’s adaptation of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” achieves what many well-meaning, ostensibly “woke” contemporary music ensemble efforts fail to accomplish. Artistic Director Ethan Heard’s retelling engages directly with the marginalized population it seeks to draw attention to: The “Prisoners’ Chorus” is sung by incarcerated individuals from prison choirs across the United States. Although the opera was […]

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On the Stuplime

On September 25, under a ruined proscenium, on a parking deck, among ravers, punks, scenesters, and opera-lovers, as champagne for spent performers flowed nearby—grace arrived. Nine singers, four actors, a 15-member orchestra, and a conductor had been looping the same 150-second passage from “Le nozze di Figaro” without pause for 11 hours and 50 minutes, […]

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Communist Dissonance

At the beginning of the Chinese Communist Party propaganda movie-musical “The Wings of Songs,” a tune is playing, and there are attractive people frolicking. But, unlike “The Sound of Music,” the frolicking and the music never match. We have just been introduced to three boyish members of a band, the film’s protagonists, who are performing […]

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