Tuesday, December 15, 2015


by Dwight Casimere

Mozart's The Magic Flute Live In HD Weds Dec 16, 1 and 7pm

The Met Live in HD presents a special Holiday Encore of Mozart's The Magic Flute this Wednesday, Dec 16 in theaters globally at  1 and 7pm. This marks the 10th Anniversary Encore of the groundbreaking broadcast that launched the Met's Live in HD series. Maestro James Levine is set to lead the orchestra and a stellar cast including Met favorites Nathan Gunn, Matthew Polenzani, Rene Pappe, Ying Huang and Erika Miklosa in Mozart's timeless fairy tale in a magical production featuring the imaginative puppetry of Julie Taymor.  With its enchanting sets and costumes and whimsical humor, "Magic Flute" is sure to delight the entire family, making it a perfect holiday treat. For tickets and information, visit metopera.org or fathomevents. com.

If you missed the recent Met Live HD transmissions of Alban Berg's "Lulu," you missed an opportunity to hear German soprano Marlis Petersen in her final performance of the title role, which she has performed in ten productions.  Fully realized in a glittering production by South African director William Kentridge, who also directed last season's "The Nose,""Lulu" employed a non-stop layered montage of video projections that enveloped the set, acting as a visual narration that accompanied the musically adventurous score. Petersen pounced upon the role with feline ferocity. Projection designer Catherine Meyburgh and set designer Sabine Theunissen seamlessly executed Kentridge's complex vision. The entire production seemed perfectly matched to the medium of Live in HD with its visual acumen.

Future Met Live in HD productions will include the upcoming Les Pecheurs (The Pearl Fishers) Saturday Jan 16, 2016 at 12:55pm and Puccini's Turandot Saturday Jan 30, 2016, also at 12:55pm. For tickets and information, visit metopera.org or fathomevents.com.

Marlis Petersen in her last performance of Berg's Lulu

Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Russian Piano Virtuoso Ends NY Philharmonic Rachmaninoff Festival With A Flourish

Daniil Trifonov delivers Piano Concerto No. 3 with lightning speed

 Piano soloist Daniil Trifonov
Guest Conductor Ludovic Morlot

by Dwight Casimere

The ink was barely dry on the announcement that Russian piano whiz Daniil Trifonov would become the newest member elected to the board of the New York Philharmonic than he took the stage at the newly-renamed David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center to give a commanding rendition of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3.

Known to students of the instrument as a sincere "knuckle buster," Trifonov dove into the horrendously difficult piece with gusto and proceeded to make mince meat of it. At times, his hands seemed to fly over the keys, yet each note was distinct. Underlying themes emerged and faded, giving the piece a portrait-like setting. There was more than towering bombast. Deep feelings emerged from the fray as Trifonov quickly shifted from flights of fury to probing emotion. An encore of Medtner's Fairy Tale further lifted his star into the firmament of piano greats.

Guest conductor Ludovic Morlot , music director of the Seattle Symphony,  similarly brought an emotive approach to the Rachmaninoff, showing a remarkable ability to maintain a nimble approach, which allowed the soloist free reign to push  tempos forward without losing control.  He similarly kept a tight lid on Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, giving the opening march all of the power and grandeur it deserves yet allowing all of the emotion and beautiful themes to unfold in the contrasting middle section. As in the earlier concerto, outstanding solos in the string section and  the mighty horns rang out with regularity.

The New York Philharmonic presents Beethoven's Fourth Symphony, Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks and the World Premiere of Andrew Norman's Piano Concerto with James Gaffigan conducting, Dec. 10-12. Then, the philharmonic goes into full holiday mode with the 20th anniversary collaboration of the Canadian Brass with the orchestra in Holiday Brass, Sunday, Dec. 13, followed by Handel's Messiah, with Jane Glover conducting and the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Dec. 15-19. For information, visit nyphil.org.