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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Italian composer Ottorino Respighi was born on this date in Bologna in 1879. He lived only to the age of 56. In addition to his Roman trilogy, he also composed many works based on 16th, 17th, and 18th century dances: his three Ancient Airs and Dances suites, The Birds, and others. He also wrote a piece depicting three paintings. What is this composition? Answer >>

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      Are Your Ears Thirsty? Q and A with Seth Boustead

      WFMT and Seth Boustead of Relevant Tones present the 2014 Thirsty Ear Festival, Saturday, July 12 at the City Winery. "The name comes from a friend of mine who was talking about an event he went to years ago and he said of the audience, "they were incredible, they had such thirsty ears." I thought it was a funny and imaginative way to describe people open to new sounds" more...

      Free Recital Downtown, Chamber Concert at Ravinia

      Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein returns to Chicago this week for two performances. At lunchtime on Wednesday, he is the featured artist at the annual Al Booth celebration at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts. On Wednesday evening, he joins artists from the Steans Institute to perform Mozart and Brahms. Goldstein appeared at the Ravinia Festival last summer alongside Leon Fleischer more...

      Haymarket Opera, Monarchy, a Brutal Crime

      [Live broadcast, Tuesday at 5:45 pm] He was a prince. She was the governor's wife. He went to stay at her house. What happened next toppled a monarchy and inspired over two thousand years of stories, art, and music. The king's son Sextus Tarquinius waited until all were asleep before creeping into the bedchamber of the virtuous Lucretia. more...

      Ravinia’s Back! Hear Concerts Every Monday

      Monday at 8:00 pm Each summer, the Monday night series Live from WFMT takes a vacation so that WFMT can bring you concerts from the Ravinia Festival. Monday’s broadcast features pianist Jeffrey Kahane, violinist Joseph Swensen, and cellist Carter Brey. Program Mozart: Piano Trio in G, K. 496 Schumann: Piano Trio in d, Op. 63 more... more...

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      Zemlinsky: A Florentine Tragedy; Six Maeterlinck Songs review thoughtful yet intense conducting

      Wessels/Lang/Skorokhodov/Dohmen/LPO/Jurowski
      (LPO Live)

      Vladimir Jurowski has long been an advocate of Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942), regularly programming his music alongside that of Gustav Mahler, whom Zemlinsky idolised, and with whose wife Alma he was also in love. The two works here constitute a vicarious response on his part to the Mahlers' marital crisis of 1910, when Alma began an affair with the architect Walter Gropius, who became her second husband. Zemlinsky took Mahler's side. Both the Maeterlinck Songs of 1910 and the one-act opera A Florentine Tragedy of 1917 allowed him to give vent to his ambivalent feelings for Alma in music of considerable distinction and force.

      Dealing with shadowy triadic relationships and multiple betrayals, the songs are scored for mezzo and smallish orchestra, and the contours of the vocal lines and the sinewy instrumentation carry deliberate echoes of Mahler's own songs. Other forces beside the Mahler menage were at play in the genesis of A Florentine Tragedy: Zemlinsky, envious of the success of Strauss's Salome, was also intent on creating a big exercise in post-Romantic psychopathology. Like Salome, the opera derives from a play by Oscar Wilde, dealing with the frustrated Florentine merchant Simone, who only succeeds in arousing his sexually dissatisfied wife Bianca when he throttles her lover Guido to death in front of her. Audiences in 1917 found it dated. Nowadays we are apt to find it voluptuous and extreme, if unwieldy in shape. Alma, for the record, immediately recognised herself as Bianca and never forgave Zemlinsky.

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      The Golden Cockerel review charming and colourful Diaghilev revival

      Coliseum, London
      This centenary performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's last opera will appeal to traditional opera audiences and to children with a taste for pantomime

      It seems extraordinary to modern audiences that Rimsky-Korsakov's last opera, The Golden Cockerel, so offended Nicholas II's censors that it was never performed in the composer's lifetime. But Rimsky, writing in the immediate aftermath of the 1905 revolution, knew what he was doing by breathing allegorical life into Pushkin's much-loved fairytale about a muddle-headed tsar whose attempt to evade the consequences of his youthful warmongering leads to his losing his heart to an oriental queen, his life to a magic rooster, and his kingdom to his people. The opera, but not the poem, ends with an epilogue by the Astrologer-cum-narrator consoling Tsar Dodon's bereft subjects with advice about the benefits of life without a Tsar.

      No trace of politics is to be found, however, in this picture-book production by the Natalia Sats Moscow State Music theatre, on their third visit to the Coliseum with a Diaghilev mini-festival. For it was the great impresario who first staged the work, as part of the 1914 Ballets Russes, with sets by Natalya Goncharova and choreography by Michel Fokine. Marking the work's centenary, the Natalia Sats company have sought faithfully to reproduce the original, Vyacheslav Okunev copying Goncharova's traditional "broadside" sets and costumes and Gali Abaidulov reworking what remains of Fokine's choreography. Crucially, too, the director, Georgy Isaakyan, has followed Diaghilev's idea to have the action staged almost entirely as a ballet, with chorus dressed as gnomes in white, gold-buttoned frocks with red hats and boots, and soloists, in evening dress, ranged at the sides.

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      Tokaido Road review everything is distanced, nothing engages

      Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham
      Nicola LeFanu's new work comes across as an awkward hybrid of western and Japanese music

      With a baritone protagonist who speaks more than he sings and an actor who mimes more than she speaks, Tokaido Road, Nicola LeFanu's new stage work, is much closer to music theatre than to opera. Inspired by Hiroshige's print series The 53 Stations of the Tokaido, which is based upon a journey the artist took in 1832 from Edo (now Tokyo) to Kyoto, Tokaido Road has a text by Nancy Gaffield, based upon her own collection of poems.

      Tokaido Road was conceived expressly for Okeanos, an ensemble that combines western and Japanese instruments, and the hour-long result does sometimes feel more like an awkward hybrid, contrived for such a lineup, than a piece that has evolved inevitably from the dramatic potential of its source. The central character is Hiroshige himself, both in old age as narrator, remembering his epic journey 25 years earlier, and as the young man Hiro living the experiences of that trip; the two are represented by both the baritone (Jeremy Huw Williams) and the actor/mime (Tomoko Kamura). A soprano (Rafaela Papadakis) and a mezzo (Caryl Hughes) are the women that Hiro encounters en route, Kikuyo and Mariko.

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