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Heels of Fortune

Opera so often has an aftertaste of evil. The character of Osmin in Mozart’s “Entführung aus dem Serail” is an embarrassing Middle Eastern caricature absurdly obsessed with blood and gore. Wagner’s knights and gods like to address their female counterparts simply as “woman.” Blackface still makes regular appearances in contemporary stagings of Verdi’s “Otello.” In […]

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Wordlessness

Care, Companionship, and Ecological Distress in Meredith Monk’s “Cellular Songs” By · Title Image Shoshone (CC BY-SA 3.0) · Date 3/29/2018 “I’m a happy woman, I’m a happy woman.” Meredith Monk’s sudden singsong was the first and only instance of actual words to be heard throughout an evening of vocal sound. This interlude, in which […]

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Constructed Deconstruction

Experimentation at Borealis in Bergen Text and Photography · Date 3/15/2018 In four separate, darkened rooms sit five performers. One prepared piano, a Hardanger fiddle, clarinet, and guitar with electronics. It’s a chamber concert for wanderers, with each instrument piped into the other rooms via wires and speakers. The format has been exploded, and while […]

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Deep Listen: Kaija Saariaho

Confession: As a music lover, one of my least favorite things to do is actually go to a live performance. Not because of the performance itself, but for the hell-is-other-people experience of being in an audience and the unspoken sense of competition that seems to come through in the concert hall. One evening, as a […]

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Deep Listen: Robert Rich

Have you considered that your needs for sleep at 19 may be different from your needs for sleep at 24?” my therapist asks me, looking at me in the compassionately bemused way that competent mental health professionals have down to an art. I am almost three years out of college, and my always-edgy relationship with […]

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Awful Magic

On Franz Schreker’s “Die Gezeichneten” By · Photography © Iko Freese · Date 2/15/2018 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 […]

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Buried Treasure

In June 2013, the Aldeburgh Festival celebrated the centenary of its founder, Benjamin Britten, by brutalizing his music. “Grimes on the Beach,” a production of the opera “Peter Grimes” that was performed over three nights on the very shoreline that first gave George Crabbe, and then Britten, a setting for their stories of Suffolk fisherfolk […]

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Deep Listen: Clara Iannotta

I’m listening to “dead wasps in the jam-jar (ii),” a string work by Clara Iannotta, and I’m disoriented. Though I play violin in string orchestras, and have for years, I feel like a layperson without any visual information. How do the performers make those frog croaks—bowing overpressure, probably, but with or without the left hand? […]

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Deep Listen: Maryanne Amacher

Magic Eye images, or autostereograms, are those illusory images you used to see in books and magazines back in the ‘90s. If looked at in the right way or for the right amount of time, parts of the image would appear on a separate plane and acquire a kind of three-dimensionality produced entirely within the […]