Saturday, December 22, 2012

The lost year

The eighth year of this blog's life has been the most precarious, with months and months of not-quite-posting at its start. There is much, in retrospect, I'd like to have written up in full -- no show more than the Manhattan School of Music revival of Corigliano's Ghosts of Versailles, a review I'd probably have completed if I still had a working VCR at hand to check my old Met videotape. Nevertheless, at least this handful of posts seems worth revisiting:
On Manon, Manon Lescaut, and Laurent Pelly's production of the former
On Janacek's tragic version of The Makropoulos Case
On the Peter Gelb era at the Metropolitan Opera
On Verdi's Requiem in performance
That I've been dissatisfied with the Gelb years since their beginning has been no secret, but he did soon after use the groundwork laid by his predecessor to preside over one of the great seasons in Met history -- 2008-09, its 125th. In this decade things haven't gone so well, but the most discouraging development from a commentator's perspective was how repetitive the missteps (and associated complaints) began to be. I'm glad to have offloaded some of that in the third post above.

Meanwhile, a word of appreciation for the readers who have continued (or begun!) to take in these words: I started this project to found what I'd not previously found -- a space for appreciation and thinking on what is in opera and opera performance, free from the factionalism and old-or-new conventions of other opera universes. I was never quite sure whether and how much this would appeal to anyone else, and want to thank you all for finding this a sympathetic project. For beyond my own limitations as a single individual with finite time and insight, I realize that the cooler format here omits not only the foolish tendencies of group opinion but its ability to deliver the pleasure of belonging -- something on which the modern world seems to run as much as the old did, if not more.

(That said, please feel free to comment!)


  1. I always enjoy reading your blog, even though I may not always agree. I do heartily agree that it is a less venomous forum than some places, and for that I am grateful.

    I'm not as down on Gelb as you are, but I have missed Levine as much as you have, and I'm not convinced that Luisi is the answer some would like him to be. I heard the worst Rhinegold I have ever heard last May, and in none of last spring's Traviatas (a production I happen to love :-) ) were the Met orchestra and chorus together, although I bet both could do it in their sleep.

    I know Luisi had a lot on his plate last spring, but..... Again this fall, I have heard some rather uninspired conducting. And again he has been very busy at the Met. I don't know the answer, just the question. Although I could easily second the idea of the guy in Philly in a few years.

    Looking forward to January and February, and what you may have to say about things. Happy holidays!

  2. I also appreciate reading your blog. I don't always agree with everything you write, but your thoughts, IMO, have always been very balanced, thoughtful, and intelligent.
    I also appreciate the relative consistency of the blog and enjoy being able to go through the archives and reading your thoughts on previous years. That has also been a great resource.
    Finally, I like how you write about young American singers, which a lot of websites often seem to neglect.
    Happy holidays.

  3. I'm new to your blog but very much appreciate your well written and well informed perspective on things esp at the Met. Sadly I must agree with your opinion of the Gelb era although IMHO there have been a few bright spots ( R rated Hoffman, or Comte d'Ory if just for the singing). And although I certainly agree with your analysis of Levine's impact on the Met, the longer the Met bets the Company on his health the worse things will be when he really can't come back. FWIW they should name him Artistic Director Emeritus and get on with finding a permanent (and preferably American) replacement.

    Couldn't agree more about American singers, though. My theory is with the large Russian immigrant population in NYC Gelb thinks he's playing to them by bringing in all these Eastern European singers.

    Keep writing! All the best for the new year.

  4. I too am new to this blog (and, in large part, to opera-going as a whole), and I really appreciate both your thoughtful posts and your enormous archives. Please do keep writing!

  5. If the Met didn't bring in European singers, the majority of the American audience will probably have no idea who the major opera singers are in Europe.
    I think the Met acts very much as a window to the international community to the American audience. I do feel that the Met does offer much needed perspective.
    The Met can't exclusively be a house that invites European singers. But it also can't be a house that only supports American singers either.

  6. Thank you all for your thoughts and kind words.

    It's interesting that a couple of you mentioned the archives: it's revealing to me how often I look back to check what I thought/wrote about a particular show or singer and find that memory isn't as accurate as I might wish. Good thing I have this self-correction... though it only goes back so far.

    I hope you're all having a happy holiday season, and am glad I'll be writing more here through the new year.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.