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Beckmesser’s Dream

A pogrom unfolds on the streets of Nuremberg. It’s the end of Act II of Barrie Kosky’s new production of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” at the Bayreuth Festival. Elsewhere in the piece, Hans Sachs sings that “all poems and verse are just the interpretation of dreams.” In some sense this production represents Beckmesser’s dream, or […]

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Can Cis Men Write Trans Opera?

“I am a human; nothing that is human is alien to me.” Composer Robert Paterson cites this line from the Roman playwright Terence in defense of his choice, along with librettist David Cote, to write an opera with characters that don’t share his demographic background. “I think there’s too much of that these days,” Paterson […]

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Vulnerable to the Unknown

The setup itself, two pianists and two percussionists, is not conventional. Yet it formed naturally, without a deliberate plan. This naturalness elucidates why giving a title to each member of Yarn/Wire is perhaps misleading: there’s a fluidity to the quartet that shatters and belittles the relevance of the principles imposed on being a pianist or […]

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Iterations

Among landmarks of opera, 20th-century Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s “Aventures” (1962) and “Nouvelles Aventures” (1962-5) count as two of the most bizarre. They’re both written for singers and a small (seven-piece) orchestra, but that’s where the concessions to operatic conventions end. The music—with percussion including mallets hitting tables, papers being ripped apart, and, in “Nouvelles […]

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Music For The Thinking Ear

“Music for the thinking ear” is the slogan for Berlin’s new Pierre Boulez Saal, which opened its doors to the public on Saturday, March 4. Why a new hall? The city’s Philharmonie (Zirkus Karajani, or “Karajan’s Circus,” as West Berliners dubbed it) remains a monument to architectural, acoustic, and indeed performative modernism; there are no […]

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Listening to Homelessness

It’s arguable whether Robert Ashley’s 1998 opera “Dust,” scored for solo voices, prerecorded orchestra, and electronics, is a masterpiece of opera—but it is certainly a masterpiece of political art in its evocation of empathy for marginalized people. During the 90 minute work, we hear the conversations and monologues of a cast of five homeless characters, […]

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The Erotic-Elegiac

On a early fall evening, a packed audience at the Kitchen theater in Chelsea’s art district sat quietly as the visual artist and gallerist Emily Sundblad took the stage. Dressed in a red and black Proenza Schouler gown with suggestive cutouts and a dramatic slit, her long strawberry-blond hair cascading over one shoulder, she looked […]

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They That Mourn

We took our shoes off in a foyer with wooden floors. In the center of the room was a communal jug of water, in which leaves were floating. Plain white paper lay nearby, so that we could fold it into cups and drink. I was at a performance of the “Human Requiem,” an immersive interpretation […]

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Decluttered

On a sunny if slightly windy evening this July, a group of young instrumentalists came together in southeast London for a performance of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony. The concert took place in an unexpected setting: a disused multi-story car park. Since 2011, the Multi-Story Orchestra have been faithful to their name, taking up residence at a […]

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Cosmos

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 6, the line just outside the entrance of the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn, New York, was already sprawling around the block. It was the kind of large crowd that might be expected for, say, the U.S. folk-rock band The Lumineers, which had played a benefit concert at the […]